Students of the Institute of Fine Arts of Dhaka University, wearing colourful masks, brought out a ‘Mangal Shobhajatra (procession of good wishes)’ as part of the festival from the main gate of the institute around 9 am. Several hundred people also joined the procession. This year, the theme of the procession was ‘Onek alo jalate hobe moner ondhokare’.
The procession, led by Dhaka University Vice Chancellor Dr AAMS Arefin Siddique, ended at the Institute of Fine Arts after parading Ruposhi Bangla Hotel intersection. The celebrations of Pahela Baishakh have become an integral part of Bangalees since it began six centuries ago. The same jubilation mood is also there in Paschimbanga and other Bangla-speaking parts of India as they also celebrate the Pahela Baishakh, but a day later. They will celebrate the Bangla New Year on Wednesday.
Mughal Emperor Akbar introduced the Bangla calendar in the 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. President Abdul Hamid, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia issued separate messages greeting the country’s people as well as all Bangla-speaking people across the globe on the occasion. Traders and shopkeepers across the country open ‘Halkhata’ (new book of accounts) and entertain customers and visitors with sweetmeat on the first day of the New Year as part of the tradition and culture.
People from all walks of life, especially the youth, came out on the roads at daybreak wearing traditional dresses to celebrate the day. Thousands of people flocked to traditional venues at different parts of the capital, including RamnaPark, Suhrawardy Udyan, Central Shaheed Minar, DhakaUniversity, Shahbagh and DhanmondiLake areas, to welcome the New Year amid pageantry. Men wearing panjabi-pyjama, women attired in sari with red borders and children in colourful dresses all thronged traditional Baishakhi Melas (fairs) and other cultural functions in the city and elsewhere in the country all day long.
People partook of ‘Panta Bhat (watery rice)’ with fried hilsa, lentils, green chilli and onions at home, restaurants and fairs following the rich tradition of Bangla culture. Though the observance of Pahela Baishakh has become popular in cities, but New Year festivities are deeply linked with the rural Bangladesh. People in villages bathed early in the morning and, clad in fine clothes, visited relatives, friends and neighbours. They also visited different Baishakhi fairs.
State-owned Bangladesh Television (BTV) and Bangladesh Betar and the private TV channels and radio stations aired special programmes on the day. Different socio-cultural organisations, including BanglaAcademy, ShilpakalaAcademy and Nazrul Institute, celebrated the day with elaborate programmes.