Kawnain Abrar, a student of Stamford University was visiting the book fair with his friends as he does annually on this auspicious day
Pohela Falgun will be observed on Valentine's Day this season and on every other leap year henceforth. However, Amar Ekushey Boi Mela fairgrounds on Thursday were bustling with visitors clad in traditional yellow sari and Panjabi, showcasing the arrival of spring.
Apart from a few visitors, almost all book lovers were dressed in the ‘happy’ colour, among other colourful attire, and some women sported garland on their heads, defying the new Bangla calendar.
The Bangla calendar was synced with the Gregorian calendar to make it scientifically accurate that set February 14 as the first day of the spring month, Falgun, every four years.
Revellers at the fair told Dhaka Tribune they knew that Pohela Falgun would be observed on February 14, the Valentine's Day, from now on. However, they did not want to let go of the longstanding tradition of celebrating Pohela Falgun on the 13th.
Kawnain Abrar, a student of Stamford University was visiting the book fair with his friends as he does annually on this auspicious day.
"I don't think changing the Bengali calendar to match the Gregorian calendar was necessary. I grew up celebrating Pohela Falgun on February 13. I feel like it is a little bit of an arbitrary decision made by the Bangla Academy," said Abrar, who donned a yellow panjabi.
He told Dhaka Tribune that no matter what, he would celebrate Pohela Falgun on the 13th every year.
Publishers also saw a hike in book sales on Thursday since visitors swarmed the fairground in larger numbers, significantly more than the other days.
Tasnuva Adiba, a publisher of Adhyayan Publication, told Dhaka Tribune they get more customers on Pohela Falgun every year as the book fair is a favourite spot for many to celebrate the first day of spring.
"I know today [yesterday] is not Pohela Falgun but it does not feel like it. We are getting customers just like we usually get on Pohela Falgun each year," Tasnuva said.
She said visitors are buying romantic novels as Valentine's Day is approaching.
She said novels of Anisul Hoque have high demand in her publishing house. In addition, all of the 700 copies of Mouri Mariam's romantic novel Sukhi Bibahito Bachelor (Happily Married Bachelor) have been sold out so far.
Interestingly, it came as a surprise to a few that February 13 was not Pohela Falgun this year.
Tanzina Ikram, a visitor at Suhrawardy Udyan fairground, said her nephews and nieces told her of the new system the previous night.
"I still decided to wear my yellow sari and visit the book fair. It is difficult for us to accept the change," she said.
The city is set to witness yet another colourful and joyous day today at the book fair and throughout the country as Pohela Falgun and Valentine’s Day will be celebrated together, which happens to fall on a weekly holiday.
Valentine's Day, also called Saint Valentine's Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, is an ancient Roman tradition which has been celebrated in European countries for ages.