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Bangladesh Celebrates Pahela Baishakh, 1st Day of Bangla Calendar Year 1419
By Ataur Rahman
Bangladesh Correspondent
Bangladesh celebrates Pahela Baishakh festival.

DHAKA — The nation of Bangladesh on April 14, 2012 celebrated Pahela Baishakh, the first day of Bangla calendar year 1419, amid traditional festivities and enthusiasm as well the pledge to build Bangladesh a prosperous nation. The day broke with the chirping of birds as usual, but singing of `Esho hey Baishakh esho esho' everywhere in Bangladesh gave the day really a festive dimension.

Dozens of cultural groups with songs and other performances on the first day of the Bangla new year flocked to different city parks as police in plainclothes and RAB men with sniffing dogs keeping a sharp vigil. The men in traditional pyjama and punjabi and women in white and red saris joined the celebrations along with children in colourful attires, streaming through Dhaka streets as the first light of the sun rang in Bengali New Year. Downtown Dhaka's Ramna Batamul appeared as the main attraction of the New Year celebrations as 'Chhayanat' and other cultural groups staged traditional functions since morning.

With vast majority of the population speaking in Bangla and giving the nation a repute of being a virtually homogeneous one, the Pahela Baishakh celebrations started from Mughal Emperor Akbar's reign.

According to traditional practices particularly in rural Bangladesh it is still customary to clear all dues on the last day of the Bengali month, Chaitra with businessmen opening "halkhata" or new book of accounts in their shops on Pahela Baishakh. The people gorged themselves on Bengali delicacies of `panta bhat' (rice soaked in water) and fried Hilsa and pepper at home and places of Baishakhi congregations, the major ones being in the capital's Ramna Batamul and on Dhaka University campus.

Cultural groups and different organisations staged various programmes like musical soiree, colourful marches and street side Baishakhi fairs in the capital city and other cities, while business community arranged their traditional 'halkhata' to welcome the Bengali New year. The whole capital tuned into a 'city of joy' as millions irrespective of male and female, youth and old, child and juvenile took to the streets with full of fun and happiness with the rising of sun on the horizon.

Small traders in their makeshift shops of handicraft items at Suhrawardy Udyan and on the roads stretching from Jatiya Press Club to Shahbagh, and on the roads surrounding Ramna Park and Baily Road did brisk business. Stringent security measures were taken and deployed of 30,000 law enforcers including police, RAB and SWAT across the country to peacefully observed the Pahela Boishakh.

Security blanket was thrown over the city's Ramna Park, Suhrawardy Udyan, Central Shaheed Minar, Dhaka University, Shahbag and Dhanmondi. Dog and bomb squads of different law enforcement agencies were deployed at different parts of the city, especially in the Ramna Park and Dhaka University area. President Zillur Rahman and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in separate messages conveyed the nation of Bangla New Year's greetings and congratulated them on the occasion.

They hoped that the Bengali New Year would bring message of joy for all and unite all to build a prosperous nation. Students of the Institute of Fine Arts of Dhaka University, wearing colorful masks, took out a `Mangal Shobhajatra in the morning as part of the carnival. Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) in cooperation with Bangla Academy has arranged a 10-day traditional and colourful Baishakhi Mela that began on the premises of Bangla Academy today.

National newspapers brought out special supplements, while television and radio channels aired special programmes to welcome Pahela Baishakh.

Receiving the reports here said Pahela Baishakh was also celebrated in Chittagong, Khulna, Rajshahi, Sylhet, Barisal, Rangpur, Faridpur, Madaripur, Gopalganj, Shariatpur, Mymensingh, Habiganj, Narayanganj, Munshiganj, Rangamati and Khagrachhari and other districts with a huge enthusiasm.

According to historical records, celebrations of Pahela Baishakh, the first day of the Bangla Calendar Year, started from Emperor Akbar's reign when it was customary to clear all dues on the last day of the Bengali month of Chaitra with businessmen opening 'halkhata' or new book of accounts in their shops.

In line with the tradition, the rural Bangladesh, with people thoroughly scrubbing and cleaning the homes, bathing early in the morning and dressing in fine clothes, rises with a new hope on this day.



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Mr. Ataur Rahman serves as Bangladesh Correspondent for The Seoul Times. He earned his Master of Commerce degree from Dhaka University in 1985. Mr. Rahman has vast journalistic experience including his stints at The Daily Janata and The Dainik Bangla.

 

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