Bangladesh on Wednesday began 10-day nationwide celebrations of the golden jubilee of independence and the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
The inaugural ceremony of the special festivities took place at the National Parade Ground in the capital in the afternoon where President Abdul Hamid was present as the chief guest.Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who presided over the opening ceremony, received President Abdul Hamid and his wife Rashida Khanam and they together welcomed visiting Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and first lady Fazna Ahmed.
The national anthem was sung collectively by 100 children to mark the grand opening of the celebrations.
The children then sang, in chorus, several songs, including Biswa Kabi Rabindranath Tagore’s “Anandaloke mongolaloke”, National Poet Kazi Nazrul Islam’s “Shukno patar nupur paye” and several others at the function.
The theme of the first day’s programme was “Bhengecho duar esecho jyotirmoy” and the theme of the whole 10-day celebrations is “Mujib Chironton”.
Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain and Bangabandhu's younger daughter Sheikh Rehana were present at the programme.
Besides, ministers, political leaders, MPs, foreign diplomats, high civil and military officials took part in the function.President of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Birth Centenary Celebration National Implementation Committee National Professor Rafiqul Islam delivered the welcome address.
Video clips with Bangabandhu’s historic addresses and comments were screened at the function where national-level singers along with young artistes sang the Mujib Year's theme song titled “Tumi Banglar dhrubo tara, tumi hridoyer batighar” penned by poet Kamal Chowdhury and composed by musician Nakib Khan. Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Rehana also joined the chorus.
An amazing fly-past by Bangladesh Air Force portraying ‘100’ marking the birth centenary of the Father of the Nation was displayed.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and internationally reputed journalist Sir William Mark Tully sent congratulatory video messages on the occasion.
Terming Bangabandhu an old and good friend of China, Chinese President Xi Jinping mentioned two visits of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to China in 1952 and 1957.
“The ‘Sonar Bangla’ he envisioned is still galvanising the 160 million Bangladeshi people in their pursuit of national rejuvenation,” he said in his video message.
Then the video clip of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurating a bust of Bangabandhu presented by the Chinese President was displayed.
In his video message, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recalled his visit to Bangladesh with his father former Prime Minister of Canada Pierre Trudeau.
“Bangladesh has gone through a remarkable socio-economic transformation in the last 50 years,” he said, adding that it is the time to reflect and celebrate – reflect the legacy of Bangabandhu and celebrate the golden jubilee of Bangladesh’s independence.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, in his video message, touched on the long and warm bilateral relations between Japan and Bangladesh.
Terming Japan a development partner of Bangladesh, he referred to a number of ongoing development projects in Bangladesh that are being implemented through the association of Japan.
Mark Tully described Bangabandhu as one of the great leaders of the 20th century.
Then the visiting President of Maldives Ibrahim Mohamed Solih delivered his speech as the guest of honour.
Referring to Bangabandhu’s historic Six-Point Movement and March 7 speech, he said Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s lifelong struggle paved the way for Bangladesh to reach its destiny as an independent nation.
Thanking the Bangladesh President for inviting him to the gala programme, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih also invited Abdul Hamid and Sheikh Hasina to visit his country.
Earlier, Maldives President Solih arrived in Bangladesh at 8:30am on Wednesday on a two-day visit to join the celebrations.
He was received by his Bangladeshi counterpart Abdul Hamid at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport. He paid homage to the Liberation War martyrs at the National Mausoleum in Savar and later paid respect to the Father of the Nation at Bangabandhu Memorial Museum in Dhanmondi-32.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, Nepalese President Bidya Devi Bhandari and Bhutanese Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering will also join the celebrations.
Of them, the Sri Lankan Prime Minister will arrive in Dhaka tomorrow on a two-day visit while the Nepalese President on March 22 on a two-day visit, the Bhutanese Prime Minister on March 24 on a two-day visit and the Indian Prime Minister will arrive in Dhaka on March 26 on a two-day high-profile visit.
While addressing the function as the chief guest, President Abdul Hamid urged politicians to take lessons from Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s ideals and devote themselves selflessly to serving the country.
He also called upon them to realise that a political party is bigger than an individual while the country is bigger than the party.
Paying tribute to the Father of the Nation, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said, “Our freedom is the fruit of the continuous struggle for the status of mother language launched by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib on March 11, 1948 with the ultimate target of political, economic and cultural emancipation of Bangalees.”
Referring to UN recommendation for Bangladesh’s graduation to the respectful group of Developing Nations from the list of Least Developed Countries, she said, “Now it's time to move forward. There’s no chance to look behind. Overcoming all obstacles, we shall establish this country as Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s non-communal Golden Bangladesh which will be free from exploitation, deprivation, hunger, poverty and illiteracy.”
The programme was moderated by former Cultural Affairs Minister Asaduzzaman Noor.
The opening ceremony was followed by a gala cultural programme featuring the history and heritage of Bangladesh.