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The parade of joy

  • Published at 07:56 pm April 29th, 2019
Mongol Shobhajatra
Photo: Mahmud Hossain Opu

Mostishko tulite dao anonder akashe

The king of all festivals - one that dissolves the boundaries between religion ethnicity and race - Pohela Boishakh - the beginning of the first day of the Bengali new year was established by emperor Akbar back in the Mughal era. Although the Bengali calendar was established for an efficient collection of taxes during 1556, it later became the day when business owners opened new ledgers - haal khata. The song - “Esho hay boishakh esho esho” - greets the dawn of April 14 with colours, music, art, and most importantly - people coming together - leaving behind all the downfalls from last year and greeting the new year like it is a new life. 

A rally that attracts almost the entire city is just a week away now. Mangal Shobha Jatra initially began with the name Anondo Shobha Jatra in the Bengali year 1396. Students of the Faculty of Fine Arts of Dhaka University, Charukolastarted bringing out rallies for the sake of the nation’s well-being. When it started off, the students did not have sufficient funds to grow, which is why they started showcasing their work to the general people and selling souvenirs. The money coming in from the sales was used to make sculptures for the rally. The same method is still being followed today - students make varieties of artifacts which are showcased on stalls inside CharukolaBig paper masks, paintings, birds, and crafted mud plates are the common products sold at the stalls.

The Charukola students form a committee every year which is in charge of organizing the event. This year, the 21st batch is the organizing committee. Each year, the committee decides on a theme and they redesign Joynal School based on the theme. The work gets divided into different segments and the students follow through, based on their expertise. The preparations start a month before the new year, and everyone works day and night till the night before the event. 

Mostishko tulite dao anonder akashe” - these immortal words of poet Rabindranath Tagore inspired the theme for this year.

Photos: Mehedi Hasan

“The initial rallies would head out to convey a message to the nation wishing for the well-being of people. Gradually, it started widely around the country and now, we can see rallies on the Bengali new year everywhere in Bangladesh, and even the government supports it. There were no funds back in our day, so we used to organize it with our own money. We would paint and sell the artwork to raise funds. We are still involved and always will be. Now, we get funds from Dhaka University and alongside, the students’ artwork being sold contributes a huge part to the funds. All the funds, together, help to construct the structures. The students are very enthusiastic, and this is what keeps it going year after year.”
- VP, Charukola

Boishakh is a time when we feel alive. I have been participating since 1423 and the weather is the same every year, but we can put everything together and make it happen. This is a tradition for us and people who consider this as one are always a part of the event and will be. We are trying to bring a positive output through the time lapse; there will be issues that we have to face, but the event will go on.”
- Organizing committee member

Not only the current batch but all the seniors, juniors, and alumni participate in the organizing period, and they all contribute. This holds a precious part in their hearts. The juniors get to learn from the seniors when they work together. The seniors get to share their experiences which can be of great help to the juniors. That's how, they believe, they make it successful.

“Charukola is a unique love; this love for Charukola brings me back here every year. No matter where we are or what we are doing, for a month, we all come here and participate, the get-togethers and all this is fun!”
-Rajib Shaha - Alumni

Since it has been recognized by UNESCO, they try to keep improving it so that they can keep up with the festivities. 

Various institutes buy the products from Charukola to exhibit them in festivals being held at their respective institutes throughout the city. Such purchases also sum up to be a huge part of the funds. The money, however, is not entirely spent on the structures. All the students who work day and night for a straight month are provided with food from the department, and a function is also held for the hard-working students at the end of the festival.

Likewise, almost every single school, college, and university celebrates the Bengali New Year and cherishes it for a year until it comes back. The students put in a lot of time and effort behind the festival so that the people can enjoy themselves. This is what makes it a Bengali New Year.

Shubho Nobo Borsho!