Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)– Pahela Baishakh, the first day of Bangla New Year, was celebrated on Monday amid fanfare, festivity and gaiety across the country under tight security.

People from all walks of life greeted the rising sun heralding the advent of the New Year with new hopes and aspirations.

The revelers are thronging the streets, parks, and other open spaces in the capital and elsewhere to join the nation’s most colourful traditional and beloved festival.

The day was  a public holiday.

The celebration of Pahela Baishakh has become an integral part of Bangalis since it began over six centuries back.

Mughal Emperor Akbar introduced the Bangla calendar in the 1556 of the Gregorian calendar in a bid to streamline the timing of land tax collection in the then ‘Subah Bangla’ region, the much of which falls under Bangladesh.

The festivities began in the capital Dhaka as usual with Chhayanaut, one of the country’s leading performing arts training institutions, organising a musical programme during the sunrise at Ramna Batamul, with thousands of men, women, and children joining the audience.

Chhayanaut artistes opened the function with Tagore’s famous song—Esho hey Baishakh esho esho, welcoming Baishakh. Noted artistes were also rendering solo and chorus songs at the function.

Students of the Fine Arts Faculty of Dhaka University brought out a Mangal Sobhajatra, or welfare parade, a key feature of the Nabo Barsho festival in Dhaka with festoons and replicas of animals and other traditional objects.

Besides, thousands of people are thronging traditional venues at different parts of the capital, including Suhrawardy Udyan, Central Shaheed Minar, Dhaka University, Shahbagh, and Dhanmondi Lake areas, to welcome the New Year amid pageantry.

Many people were seen eating panta bhat [boiled rice kept in water overnight] with fried hilsa, lentil soup, and smoked chilli – the traditional Pahela Baishakh morning breakfast – in numerous places of public congregation across the capital city.

Traders in both rural and urban areas opened new ledgers, generally known as Shubho Hal Khata, for the newly commenced year, after settling accounts of the year that just had ended. Hal Khata is an age-old business tradition of the Bangali nation.

People in villages take bath early in the morning and, clad in fine clothes, went to visit relatives, friends and neighbours. They also visited different Baishakhi fairs arranged in many parts of Bangladesh.

State-owned and private radio and television channels are airing special programmes and newspapers brought out supplements to mark the festival. Many organisations have also chalked out elaborate programmes throughout the day.

Different socio-cultural organisations have chalked out elaborate programmes to celebrate the day. Bangla Academy, Shilpakala Academy and Nazrul Institute are organizing separate cultural programmes to welcome the New Year.

The government has taken stringent security measures across the country during the occasion.

On the occasion, President Abdul Hamid, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia issued separate messages conveying their New Year’s greetings to the people of the country and all Bengali-speaking people across the globe.

Latest update:BBN/SSR/SI-14Apr14-11:40 pm (BST)

BBN/SSR/AD-14Apr14-10:28 am (BST)