The nation celebrates Pahela Baishakh, the first day of Bangla New Year 1429, today with festivity, merriment and grandeur after an unwanted break of two years due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Pahela Baishakh is not just the beginning of a New Year to the Bangalees. It is a day when people of this land reaffirm unity of the nation with social, cultural and religious tapestry woven by diverse threads.
President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina greeted the people of the country on the occasion of Bangla New Year.
In separate messages on the eve of the day, they also wished peace, happiness and prosperity of the people and the country.
Leader of the Opposition in Parliament Rawshan Ershad, Jatiya Party Chairman GM Quader, BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir and leaders of other political parties also greeted the people on the occasion.
The day is a public holiday.
This year Pahela Baishakh celebration is quite different from other years’ as the day coincides with the Muslims’ fasting month of Ramadan.
Pahela Baishakh celebrations are largely connected to peasant culture of the country’s rural areas.
Mughal Emperor Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Akbar introduced Bangla calendar to facilitate revenue collections, making the calculation of date and months more scientific and consistent with the harvesting season.
Later, traders picked Pahela Baishakh for their business. Arranging a special programme named halkhata, they inspire customers to repay debts and entertain them with sweetmeats on the occasion.
Baishakhi mela (fair) is another mega event arranged every year across the country centering the Bangla New Year celebrations where various features of Bangalee culture are exhibited.
For the last several decades, Pahela Baishakh is being widely celebrated in cities and towns. Wearing red and white punjabis, sarees and salwar kamiz, thousands of city dwellers visit different spots and pass time with their near and dear ones in a cheerful atmosphere.
Security has been beefed up at Ramna and on Dhaka University campus for Pahela Baishakh celebrations. Dhaka Metropolitan Police said all public events centering the New Year must end by 2:00pm.
The festivities in Dhaka will begin at dawn with the artistes from Chhayanaut welcoming New Bangla Year with an instrumental performance followed by Tagore song ‘Mon, jago mongololoke’ at Ramna Batamul.
Chhayanaut artistes have not rehearsed on the stage at Batamul this year but they have been taking preparations for the last one month.
Chhayanaut General Secretary Laisa Ahmed Lisa said the stage has been prepared and they have reduced the number of artistes, who will perform in the function, from 150 to 85.
Apart from Tagore and Nazrul songs, they will perform pancha kobir gaan, traditional folk songs and poetry recitation.
Since the initiation of the programme in 1967, Chhayanaut arranged it every year except the turbulent year of the Liberation War in 1971. Despite the horrific bomb attack on the programme in 2001, the famed cultural organisation didn’t hesitate to maintain the continuity.
But in the last two years, due to the severity of coronavirus pandemic, the event could not take place.
Another major event will be the colourful Mangal Shobhajatra on Dhaka University campus where students of the Faculty of Fine Art will display various animal-shaped carnival floats, large colourful masks, replicas of birds, tigers, flowers, fishes, traditional dolls and other cultural motifs that highlight the traditional folklore of Bangladesh.
Students of the 22nd and 23rd batch of the Faculty of Fine Art have been given the task to complete all necessary preparations to host the colourful parade this year. They said there will be five large motifs, including horse and pressed doll in the procession.
Changing the usual route due to the construction work of metro rail project, this year Mangal Shobhajatra will start from TSC and will return through the front yard of the Vice Chancellor’s residence.
The theme for this year’s Mangal Shobhajatra is ‘Nirmol Koro Mangal Koro Molin Mormo Muchaye’.
Convener of the subcommittee on arranging Mangal Shobhajatra and Dean of Faculty of Fine Art Prof Nisar Hossain said, “Coronavirus has disrupted our normal life. Dirt has gathered in our minds. We wish our minds be cleansed and made good. This time the theme is based on the hope we still have after the pandemic.”
Being inspired by a procession that had taken place in Jashore in 1985, the tradition of organising Mangal Shobhajatra in the capital began in 1989 and gradually became an integral part of Bangali culture. It was recognised as the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2016.