Like previous year, people welcomed the Bangla New Year on Wednesday on a scaled-back manner amid a countrywide complete lockdown enforced to contain the coronavirus transmission.
Following a sharp surge in coronavirus cases in Bangladesh, most of the programmes to celebrate Pahela Baishakh were arranged virtually.Eminent cultural organisations and institutions, including Chhayanaut, Faculty of Fine Arts at Dhaka University, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy and Liberation War Museum, all lined up online events to welcome the New Year of 1428.
For the 2nd year in a row, Chhayanaut organised virtual programmes with Bangladesh Television (BTV) instead of staging its traditional function at Ramna Batamul in Dhaka to welcome the New Year with musical performances and poetry recitation.
Apart from BTV, Chhayanaut aired the programmes on its YouTube channel and Facebook page from 7am to 7:50am in the morning.
Chhayanaut General Secretary Laisa Ahmad Lisa said, “We were concerned about the health of our artistes as some of them had contracted the deadly virus. This compelled us to design a digital programme featuring songs performed in chorus in the past and fresh solo performances.”
“We did rehearsal for the programme and took all preparations but finally changed our plan,” she added.
The DU Faculty of Fine Arts usually arranges Mangal Shobhajatra, a traditional procession, every year.But for the 2nd consecutive year, the procession was postponed this year, and the organisers depended on the virtual medium to engage cultural enthusiasts in their programme.
Many students, alumni and teachers of the faculty took preparations for the parade as it was scheduled to be held on a limited scale, but due to a rise in Covid-19 cases and deaths, all arrangements were altered.
A brief token Mangal Shobhajatra was brought out in the morning of Pahela Baishakh on the Faculty of Fine Arts premises where some 100 people took part with masks and symbols made by the artists of the faculty.
State Minister for Cultural Affairs KM Khalid and Dhaka University Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Md Akhtaruzzaman symbolically led the procession.
“We’ve arranged a symbolic celebration on a small scale. Students and teachers displayed masks and artworks at the spot, maintaining health and safety guidelines,” said Prof Nisar Hossain, dean of the DU Faculty of Fine Arts.
Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy also arranged a virtual programme welcoming 1428.
The online event, featuring former Cultural Affairs Minister and celebrated thespian Asaduzzman Noor, renowned educationist Prof Dr Syed Manzoorul Islam and BSA Director General Liaquat Ali Lucky, Nazrul Sangeet maestro Khairul Anam Shakil, prominent folk singer Akramul Islam and noted Rabindra Sangeet singer Lily Islam, among other noted personalities, was aired live on BSA’s official Facebook page and YouTube channel in the morning. Liberation War Museum and Wrishiz Shilpi Goshthi also held online programmes on Facebook on the occasion.
Besides, many organisations and institutions cancelled their New Year celebration programmes in the wake of a surge in Covid-19 cases.