Dhaka city came alive on Friday with people dressed in the traditional colours of Pohela Boishakh ushering in the Bangla New Year of 1424.
Festivities began at 6am with musical performances at Ramna Batamul organised by Chhayanaut – a 50 year old tradition of the cultural organisation.
One of the highlights of this colourful exhibition of Bangladesh’s culture, tradition and heritage is the UNESCO-recognised Intangible Cultural Heritage, the Mongol Shobhajatra, a parade that began in 1989 as a resistance to military dictatorship by teachers and students of the Faculty of Fine Arts, Dhaka University using traditional folk art.
Hundreds participated in the parade this year that began at 9am with Cultural Affairs Minister Asaduzzaman Noor and Dhaka University Vice-Chancellor AAMS Arefin Siddique in attendance.
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Dhaka University’s Faculty of Fine Arts brings out the annual Mongol Shobhajatra Syed Zakir Hossain
Amid grave concerns over militancy, the parade’s theme was “Anondo Loke, Mongol Aloke, Birajo Sottyo Sundro” (in the abode of joy and benevolence lies the beautiful truth) focusing on celebrating truth and justice.
President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in separate messages wished peace, happiness and prosperity to everyone on the new Bangla year of 1424.
The Ministry of Cultural Affairs, Bangla Academy, Shilpakala Academy, Sammilita Sangskritik Jote, Bangabandhu Sangskritik Jote, Bangladesh Shishu Academy, Jatiya Press Club, Dhaka Reporter’s Unity (DRU) and different organisations all organised programmes to celebrate the day amid much fanfare.
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A group of dancers perform at a Bangla New Year programme organised by Bangabandhu International Cultural Centre, Channel I, and Shurer Dhora Mehei Hasan
Not only in Dhaka, Pohela Boishakh was also celebrated in Chittagong, Khulna, Rajshahi, Sylhet, Barisal, Rangpur, Faridpur, Madaripur, Gopalganj, Shariatpur, Mymensingh, Habiganj, Magura, Narayanganj, Munshiganj, Rangamati, Bagerhat, Kurigram, Kushtia, Joypurhat, Chuadanga, Meherpur, Sherpur, Dinajpur, Gazipur and other districts.
The Hindu community celebrated Pohela Baishakh on Saturday as it is traditionally connected to the harvest festival that fell a day before or after April 14.
In Bagerhat, Jessore and Moulvibazar, Pohela Baishakh was celebrated with Charak Puja, the Hindu festival of penance where men and women are hooked on their backs and spun around a bar with a long rope.
In Brahmanbaria the Hindu community also celebrated Pohela Baishakh on Saturday with a Sindoor Festival by placing sindoor on each others’ forehead for a prosperous new year.
In 1987 the tradition of celebrating Pohela Boishakh was set to April 14, which previously depended on the lunar calendar and was connected to the harvest festival.
The Bengali calendar was modified by a committee under the Bangla Academy on February 17, 1986 and was officially adopted by the government in 1987.
According to historical records, celebrations of Pohela Boishakh started from Emperor Akbar’s reign when it was customary to clear all dues on the last day of the Bangla month of Chaitra with businessmen opening “halkhata” or new book of accounts in their shops.