For the second year in a row, celebrations remain muted across Bangladesh due to the lockdown aimed to curb the Covid-19 surge
Considering the Covid-19 situation and the lockdown, Pohela Boishakh, the first day of Bangla New Year 1428, has been celebrated at Dhaka University through a limited symbolic program.
A brief symbolic Mongol Shobhajatra, a mass procession that is brought out on the morning of Pohela Boishakh, was organized on the Faculty of Fine Arts premises with various faces and symbols made by the artists of the faculty.
State Minister for Culture KM Khalid and Dhaka University Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Md Akhtaruzzaman symbolically led the procession of some 100 people.
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Prof Dr Md Akhtaruzzaman wished all the teachers, students, officials and employees of the university a happy Bangla New Year and said: “The colorful festival and tradition of welcoming the Bangla New Year from time immemorial is non-communal, liberal and humane.
“The Bangla 1428 year is an important year as it marks the centenary of Dhaka University, the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the golden jubilee of independence.”
The vice-chancellor thanked the Faculty of Fine Arts for organizing the symbolic Mongol Shobhajatra to welcome the Bangla New Year on a very limited scale following the hygiene rules.
State Minister for Culture KM Khalid said the Mongol Shobhajatra is a cultural heritage. But due to the ongoing epidemic, the first day of Bangla New Year could not be celebrated in a festive atmosphere this year as well.
“We hope that in the future, the Bangla New Year will be celebrated in the same colorful arrangement as before,” he added.
He thanked the university authorities and the Faculty of Fine Arts for organizing this symbolic Mongol Shobhajatra in spite of various obstacles.
Pandemic dampens celebrations
For the second year in a row, Pohela Boishakh celebrations remained muted across Bangladesh due to the strict week-long lockdown enforced by the government to curb the rising cases of Covid-19.
All television channels aired a special program on Wednesday morning as people stayed indoors on the first day of the Bangla calendar.
Pohela Boishakh is celebrated every year in Bangladesh on April 14. But this year, most of the programs have been cancelled to avoid mass gatherings in a bid to break the chain of the virus transmission.
Pohela Boishakh celebrations have become an integral part of the Bangalis since it began more than six centuries ago.
Mughal Emperor Akbar introduced the Bangla calendar in the year 1556 of the Gregorian calendar in a bid to streamline the timing of land tax collection in the then “Subah Bangla” region, much of which now falls in Bangladesh.
The day is a public holiday.
Renowned cultural organizations and institutions, including Chhayanaut, the Faculty of Fine Arts (FFA) of Dhaka University, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy (BSA) and Liberation War Museum Bangladesh (LWM), have all lined up online events to welcome the new year 1428.
First observed in 1989 by Faculty of Fine Arts as a colourful procession celebrating the Bangla New Year with the participation of people from all walks of life, the annual Mongal Shobhajatra received the recognition of Unesco as an intangible cultural heritage on November 30, 2016.
Unfortunately, this event was organized in a limited scale this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
On Monday, Chhayanaut general secretary Laisa Ahmed Lisa said, “As we could not celebrate Pohela Boishakh 1427, we had been preparing to organize the program this year without the crowd at the venue.
“But sadly this time too, we have decided to broadcast this year’s event on Bangladesh Television (BTV)."
“The program showcase a compilation of some of the new and previous performances of Chhayanaut artistes, and this year we are featuring performances focusing on the golden jubilee of our glorious Independence. Apart from BTV, Chhayanaut will also broadcast the program on its YouTube Channel Chhayanaut Digital - Platform," she added.
Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy (BSA) also broadcast a live webinar and cultural program on its official Facebook page and YouTube channel, which was joined by former Cultural Affairs Minister and eminent thespian Asaduzzaman Noor.
BSA Director General Liaquat Ali Lucky presided over the virtual event, which was also be joined by prominent educator Prof Syed Manzoorul Islam, Nazrul Sangeet maestro Khairul Anam Shakil, folk singer Akramul Islam and Rabindra Sangeet singer Lily Islam.
Liberation War Museum and Wrishiz Shilpi Goshthi also held online programs on Facebook on the occasion.
This year, April 14 also marks the first day of the holy month of Ramadan in Bangladesh and some other Muslim countries in the world.
On the occasion, President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina issued separate massages greeting the countrymen and all Bangla-speaking people across the globe.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday urged everyone to follow health guidelines and celebrate Pohela Boishakh at home, in the wake of a surge in Covid-19 cases.
"We have to remember that the lives of the people come first. If (we) survive, we’ll be able to rearrange everything," she said, while addressing the nation on the eve of Pohela Boishakh.