Ekushey Book Fair: The Music of Sunshine

Anwar A Khan

19th February, 2019 11:01:05 printer

Charlie Jones repeatedly said that, “You will be the same person you are today in five years but for two things:  the people you meet and the books you read.” Books change lives. Ekushey Book Fair is a grand fair of books which is organised by the Bangla Academy every year in February, the month of language movement. A lot of new books are published on this occasion and people visit the fair to collect the books of their favourite writers. The fair turns into a great festival for the book lovers and cultural activists. They are inspired by their love of mother tongue and express their emotions through poems and songs. This kind of fair is unique in the whole world. With the combination of the newest books and the cultural activities, Ekushey Book Fair becomes a remarkable event for the people of Bangladesh. This is not simply a fair but also a medium to get in touch with our culture and glorious history.

With the growing number of stalls and pavilions, the Boi Mela never fails to cater to the wants and needs of readers, writers and publishers. Popular writers are usually highly prioritised among the others. However, the book festival is a platform for the newcomers, allowing them to showcase their work to the readers. If you’re a writer or a publisher, grab this opportunity. What better way to celebrate the book selling festival in Bangladesh than to get you published?

Books are the main attraction in the fair but not the only attraction. Many cultural activities, like poetry and music, are held on the Bangla Academy stage, where traditions of the nation are highlighted. Baul and other folk songs are presented to the amusement of the gathering. Discussions on literature and culture are also held throughout the month of February. Famous writers and intellectuals deliver lectures to enlighten the audience. In one stage programme, Ekushey Padaks are handed over to recipients amid the presence of the top intellectuals of the country.

Some food stalls are set up in the fair premises. People take different kinds of fast food like chatpati, phuchka, singara and moglai there. Tea, coffee and soft drinks are also available. Outside the main centre of book stalls, many vendors gather in the adjoining areas and sell their products including bangles, handicrafts and other fancy goods. Various kinds of toys for children are also sold there.

Ekushey Book Fair has a special place in the heart of the young generation. It is always an attractive place for them. They rush there for knowledge and exchange of views. Going to the book fair with family and friends is like an adventure for the young people. Sometimes young pairs come here to present their beloved the books of their taste, making their emotion more intense. They move around the stalls with apparently endless talking.

In the Ekushey Book Fair, there is a particular location for little magazines. All kinds of little magazines are sold here. The little magazine enthusiasts gather here and gossip among them. The young poets also frequently visit the place and debate among them on the latest forms of poetry. Elsewhere there is a spot called ‘Lekhok Kunja’ where the writers sit and talk to the readers. Newly arrived books are often unwrapped here amid huge claps. As soon as a new book arrives, it is announced with mike from the information booth of Bangla Academy.

Book fair is the mark of glory for the civilised and educated nation of Bangladesh, a developing country but it has that glory. It organises Ekushey Book Fair every year to commemorate the contribution of the golden sons of the soil who laid down their lives for their mother tongue, which ultimately culminated in the independence of Bangladesh. In the month of February the whole nation wakes up to the glory of Ekushey Book Fair. Bangla Academy and Suhrawardy Uddan squares are animated with the movement of book lovers.

Books open our mind, broaden our mind, and strengthen us as nothing else can. “A good book is the purest essence of a human soul” was written aright by Thomas Carlyle. Book fair is a great event of attraction for the intelligent and book lovers. There is a huge crowd of people every day in the Ekushey Book fair. Each stall is a delight to watch. They display children’s books, subject-oriented books, books on language and literature, books on performing arts, science and technology, books on software and hardware, banking and finance, Management and accounting, books on medicine, books on law and income, books on cookery, health, beauty and fitness and religious books. In addition, there is a huge collection of dictionaries.

Every publisher has their own way to attract the public; and some are offering heavy discount while some other had gift schemes. Some publishers are making special sitting arrangement for the readers. We buy books of our choice. We enjoy the visit tremendously. Every day, it is a memorable trip.

Celebrating the power of words to stimulate, agitate, unite, delight, and inspire, Ekushey Book Fair presents month-round events culminating in a festival that promotes a culture of reading and ideas and enhances the vibrancy of the Bengalis.

We are having a really great month spending time at the Ekushey Book Fairs. It is great to see that books are still alive and a lot of education gearing towards children and adults! This is located on the compounds of the Bangla Academy and Suhrawardy Udyan. Every day, the areas get packed with crowded people.

There is so much going on. There are book signing, meeting authors, food huts, merchandise to purchase and many more. I personally have enjoyed watching the entertainment and getting free books signed by authors. There were also other very affordable books at some stalls.

Overall, this is a great place for the family from youth to elders. Rediscover books. It is so cool to see such a diverse crowd of folks all coming out to support reading! Something for everyone, even kids. I definitely recommend everyone to come here at least once in their lives every year!

Publishers and booksellers bring their books to the public. In a book fair, it is fair to say it is a treasure of knowledge printed on paper for curious visitors. It is immense pleasure. Books - new and old visited by young and old fingers turning page after page, eyes gazing at printed words, a preview to select ones to buy. Information today is electronic transferred through hardwires.  Glass fibres and wireless E-books saved on computer disks, also via internet - world's fast changing indeed, when all is said and done. Printed books are always liked by readers in all walks of life. Many cheers to printed books! Welcome to the Ekushey Book Fair. A must-do for any book-lover! This event is so fun if you love books!!!

Yes, there are a few poets pursuing publishers, almost certainly hopelessly, but hey -- that too is part of the fun and it seems less painful than the usual postal process. The publisher (or his or her envoys) stands there wanting to sell STUFF. The poet approaches hoping the publisher may secretly want more STUFF (from her or him) to sell. Most of the poets are too shy to mention the poetry they have hidden in their vests. Most of the publishers pretend they don't sense the in divested.

Everybody is able to feel, at least temporarily, that they like poetry. It feels like a good thing -- otherwise why would everybody be so jolly? Meanwhile, the publishers are desperately hoping to go home carrying less than s/he came with. The bargains in the bargain book box get better and better as the day goes on (a top tip for buyers next year). There is a point at which it might even be possible to pay people to take the publications away with them.

This is a wonderful sounding book festival in Dhaka. Brilliantly organised, brilliantly achieved. Sorry to tell you this, if you weren't there. I thought it was going to be quieter than usual, but at some point in the afternoon I realised the buzz was buzzier than ever before. A lot of fun, joking, chatting, and some really lovely folk around! A great atmosphere! Looking forward to next year already!


The writer is a senior citizen, writes on politics, political and human-centred figures, current and international affairs