Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)– The nation celebrated Pahela Baishakh, the first day of the Bangla New Year 1419, on Saturday amid traditional fanfare and festivities.
The festivity in the capital began after sunrise with the people swarming the banyan tree at Ramna Udyan, the focal point of celebrations in the capital, where artistes of cultural organization Chhayanaut sang the traditional Pahela Baishakh song of Rabindranath Tagore–“Esho hey Baishakh esho esho”–to welcome the Bangla New Year.
They took `Panta Bhat (watery rice)’ with fried hilsa, lentils, green chili and onions at home, restaurants and fairs following the rich tradition of Bangali culture.
The day was a public holiday.
Students of the Institute of Fine Arts of Dhaka University, wearing colourful masks, took out a `Mangal Shobhajatra (procession of good wishes)’ in the morning as part of the carnival.
Though the observance of Pahela Baishakh has become popular in cities, New Year festivities are deeply linked with rural Bangladesh.
People in villages took bath early in the morning and then they, clad in fine clothes, visited relatives, friends and neighbours. They also visited different Baishakhi fairs arranged in various parts of the country.
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.
Different socio-cultural organizations also held various programs as part of the celebrations. Bangla Academy, Shilpakala Academy and Nazrul Institute organized separate cultural programs welcoming the New Year.
On the eve of the New Year, President Zillur Rahman, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Leader of the Opposition and BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia issued separate messages on the occasion conveying New Year’s greetings to the countrymen and all Bangla-speaking people across the globe.
State-owned Bangladesh Television (BTV) and Bangladesh Betar, and the private TV channels aired special programs on the occasion.
The Bangla year beginning with Baishakh was introduced during the rule of Mughal Emperor Akbar from 1556-1605AD.
BBN/SSR/AD-15Par12-1:40 pm (BST)