Pahela Baishakh celebrated with much fanfare

Pahela Baishakh, the first day of the Bangla New Year 1420, was celebrated with much fanfare and gaiety.The New Year’s revellers from all walks of life in traditional attires converged on Ramna Batamul, the main venue of the celebrations, Suhrawardy Udyan, Shahbagh, Dhaka University campus and other venues in the city and elsewhere in the country to welcome the New Year.
They took ‘Panta Bhat (watered rice)’ with fried Hilsa, lentils, green chili and onions at home, restaurants and fairs following the rich tradition of Bangali culture.
Artistes from Chhayanaut welcomed the day with Tagore’s famous song ‘Esho hey Baishakh, esho, esho (come O Baishakh, come)’ under the banyan tree at the Ramna Park.
Dhaka University’s Fine Arts Institute brought out a ‘Mangal Shobhajatra’, a procession seeking wellbeing for all, with its marchers wearing traditional dresses and colorful masks paraded the campus.
Though the observance of Pahela Baishakh has become much more popular in cities, New Year festivities are deeply linked with rural Bangladesh.
Traders and shopkeepers across the country opened ‘Halkhata’ (new book of accounts) and entertained customers and visitors with sweets on the first day of the New Year as part of the tradition and culture.
Ethnic groups in the hill tracts also celebrated the New Year through a programme known as ‘Baisabi’ in their own fashion.
The government took special security measures to enable people to celebrate the occasion without any untoward incident.
A three-phase thick security blanket was thrown throughout Dhaka city as well as other parts of the country so that people from all walks of lives could celebrate the Bangla New Year in a festive mood.
The Bangla year with its first month Baishakh was introduced during the rule of Mughal Emperor Akbar from 1556-1605 AD. Emperor Akbar introduced the Bangla calendar year, and the celebrations of Pahela Baishakh began during his rule. Now it has become integral part of the Bengali’s cultural heritage and tradition and turned into a day of merriment
The day was a public holiday.
Different socio-cultural organisations held various programmes as part of the celebrations. Bangla Academy, Shilpakala Academy and Nazrul Institute held separate cultural programmes welcoming the New Year.
Dhaka City Awami League brought out a ‘Mangal Shobhajatra’ from Bahadur Shah Park at 7 am.
State-owned Bangladesh Television (BTV) and Bangladesh Betar and the private TV channels aired special programmes while newspapers published supplements on the occasion.
In 2001, the nation saw an unexpected tragedy as an explosion at Ramna Batamul during Pahela Baishakh celebrations killed at least 10 people. UNB

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