Pahela Baishakh, the first day of Bangla calendar, was celebrated across the country on Sunday amid traditional festivities and enthusiasm.
The festivities began at dawn with the artistes from Chhayanaut welcoming the day with Tagore’s famous song ‘Esho hey Baishakh, esho, esho (come O Baishakh, come)’ under the banyan tree at the Ramna Park.True to their centuries old tradition, people from all walks of life thronged different popular and historic spots in the capital and elsewhere across the country to welcome the Bangla New Year, 1426 with new hopes and aspirations for a better, peaceful year.
The celebrations of Pahela Baishakh have become an integral part of Bangalees since it began over six centuries back.
Mughal Emperor Akbar introduced the Bangla calendar in 1556 of the Gregorian calendar in a bid to streamline the timing of land tax collection in the then ‘Subah Bangla’ region, the much of which falls under Bangladesh.
The day was a public holiday.
Traders and shopkeepers across the country open ‘Halkhata’ (new book of accounts) and entertain customers and visitors with sweets on the first day of the New Year as part of the tradition and culture.On every return of Pahela Baishakh, also the country’s biggest cultural festival, people of all walks of life, especially the youths, come out to the roads at daybreak wearing traditional dresses to celebrate the day.
Students of the Institute of Fine Art of Dhaka University brought out a Mangal Shobhajatra (procession of good wishes) from in front of the institute in the morning as part of the carnival.
People partook of ‘panta-bhat (watery rice)’ with fried Hilsa, lentils, green chili and onions at home, restaurants and fairs following the rich tradition of Bangla culture.
There were stringent security measures in place for smooth celebrations of Pahela Baishakh.
No one was allowed to wear masks and play Vuvuzela on the day to avert any unpleasant incident and police escorted the Mangal Shobhajatra and keep surveillance from the roofs of buildings.