The nation on Sunday celebrated “Pahela Baishakh,” the first day of the Bengali New Year 1420 with fanfare and festivity in style and a traditional colorful way. The grand celebration kicked off as the first sunrise of 1420 became visible on the eastern horizon, welcoming the New Year with especially chosen seasonal song – “Eso Hey Baishakh, Eso Hey!” (Welcome O’ Baishakh, Welcome!). Thousands of Bengali-speaking people living in major cities of the world including London, New York, Boston, Toronto, Montreal, Paris, Sydney and Melbourne also joined the nation in celebrating Pahela Baishakh amid joy and enthusiasm.
In the capital, some of the finest artistes from Chhayanaut, a nationally renowned cultural organization, greeted the day at dawn singing Tagore’s song “Eso Hey Baishakh, Eso Eso” under the now-famous banyan tree at Ramna Park.
Wearing deep-colored dresses, some painting their faces with the words “Shuvo Nababarsha” (“Happy New Year”), thousands of people of all ages regardless of caste and creed thronged the park well ahead of the daybreak for best spots in the front to enjoy the music.
The artistes of Chhayanaut also carefully chose their dresses in deep red and green resembling the colors of the national flag of Bangladesh. They sat at the foot of the banyan tree in a pre-planned way that also matched the exact shape of the flag of Bangladesh.
Just before closing of the programme, artiste Sanjida Khatun, chief of Chhayanaut said: “Hatred to those who will be silent.”
“We cannot let the country be defeated again and again to the evil force. A good time for Bangladesh will certainly come.”
As soon as the main Chhayanaut program at Ramna ended, the students of Dhaka University’s Institute of Fine Arts brought out a massive “Mongol Sobhajatra” or “Well-being Parade” in the city. This year’s theme of the parade was “Razakars-free Bangladesh” (“Bangladesh free of War Criminals”).
The 50-foot dragon in the colorful parade participated by thousands of people of all ages symbolized the war criminals. As the slow-moving march continued through the main thoroughfares of the city,
many chanted slogans demanding death penalty to war criminals.
Thousands celebrated the Pahela Baishakh, taking “Panta Bhat” or “Watered Rice,” still very popular in rural Bangladesh, with fried hilsa, lentils, green chili and onions at home, restaurants and fairs following the age-old tradition of Bangali culture.
Traders and shopkeepers across the country opened “Halkhata” (new book of accounts) and entertained customers and visitors with sweets on the first day of the
New Year as part of the long tradition and culture of the Bengali nation.
Ethnic groups in the hill tracts also celebrated the New Year through a programme known as “Baisabi” in their own fashion.
The government took special security measures to enable people to celebrate the occasion without any untoward incident.
A three-layer security blanket was thrown throughout Dhaka city as well as other parts of the country so that people from all walks of lives could celebrate the Bangla New Year in a festive mood.
The Bangla year with its first month Baishakh was introduced during the rule of Mughal Emperor Akbar from 1556-1605 AD. Emperor Akbar introduced the Bangla calendar year, and the celebrations of Pahela Baishakh began during his rule.
Now it has become an integral part of the Bengali’s cultural heritage and tradition and turned into a day of merriment The day was a public holiday.
Bangla Academy, Shilpakala Academy and Nazrul Institute held separate cultural programmes welcoming the New Year.
Dhaka City Awami League brought out a ‘Mangal Shobhajatra’ from Bahadur Shah Park at 7 am.
State-owned Bangladesh Television (BTV) and Bangladesh Betar and the private TV channels aired special programmes while newspapers published supplements on the occasion.
Amid the celebrations, a Ganajagaran Mancha rally was held at Shahbagh.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh Embassy in Washington, DC on Sunday organized a cultural program to celebrate Bengali New Year-1420 at Bangabandhu Auditorium of the embassy.
The embassy officials, their family members and leading cultural activists of Bangladesh origin based in the greater Washington DC took part in the cultural evening.
The cultural show included chorus performance of the traditional year beginner “eso hey boishakh, eso eso.”
Bangladesh High Commission in Islamabad celebrated the Bangla New Year 1420 with festivity at the Chancery on Sunday.
Bangladesh High Commissioner to Pakistan Suhrab Hossain formally inaugurated a daylong cultural, food, handicraft and book exhibition at the Chancery, according to a message received here from Islamabad.
-With The Independent input