Vol. 5 Num 315 Sat. April 16, 2005  
Front Page

Pahela Baishakh celebrated

The nation on Thursday greeted Pahela Baishakh, the first day of Bangla New Year 1412, amid colourful festivities and a determination to move forward with its cultural heritage, leaving behind the gloom of the past year.

Pahela Baishakh has its origins in the Mughal period when Emperor Akbar employed the Bangla calendar to facilitate tax collection. In this line traders and shopkeepers open Halkhata (fresh accounts book) on this day and offer sweets to their customers.

Tight security measures were taken in and around the traditional venue of the occasion, Ramna Green, to avert any kind of untoward incidents like the bomb explosions that left 10 people dead here on this day in 1408 (2001).

About 8000 members of law enforcement agencies in uniform and plain clothes including Rapid Action Battalion and police personnel kept a close eye on the movements of people in Ramna Park. Dog squads, close-circuit security cameras, metal detectors were deployed as part of security measures.

A festive spirit gripped the capital as well as other parts of the nation. Young ladies in dazzling white saris with red borders and young men clad in punjabi performed on the roads to welcome the new year.

People from all walks of life irrespective of religion and age, attired in traditional dresses, thronged Boishakhi Melas (fairs) -- showcasing various handicrafts and artefacts-- in the capital and elsewhere in the country. Colourful rallies, musical programmes, fairs and cake festivals added colour to the festive day.

Thousands gathered at the city's Ramna Park, Suhrawardy Udyan, Central Shaheed Minar, Dhaka University, Shahbag, Dhanmondi Lake and other open spaces from early morning. Roads stretching from Matshya Bhaban to Shahbagh to Doel Chattar were made off limits to all vehicles to accommodate the crowd.

Crowds in and around Dhaka University, Ramna and Dhanmondi Lake virtually made the city traffic network collapse.

Chhayanaut, a cultural organisation erected a huge podium at the Ramna Batamul for its trademark cultural programme that was witnessed by thousands of men, women and children. At the function, artistes of Chhayanaut sangs, recited poems and essays. The much-awaited function concluded with the singing of the national anthem.

At the function, Chhayanaut chief Dr Sanjida Khatun urged all make a fresh beginning in the name of beauty and truth.

In the scorching heat long queues were found at all entrances to the park because of high security measures.

Another main attraction was the rally brought out by the students of Dhaka University's Institute of Fine Arts called Mongol Shovajatra. The students used the white pigeon as an emblem of peace in the rally.

The country's intellectuals earlier formed a 1,001-member committee "Pahela Baishakh Udjapan Jatiya Parishad" headed by renowned poet Shamsur Rahman who took part in a colourful procession from central Shaheed Minar to Rabindra Sarobar at Dhanmondi.

The procession of the Parishad carrying a long broom, a black effigy of communalism and an owl caught the attention of many as it made its way through the city streets.

Different socio-cultural organisations arranged elaborate programmes on Pahela Baishakh and turned Dhaka into a city of festival.

Prime Minister Khaleda Zia exchanged greetings with all sections of people on the day of Pahela Baishakh.

The indigenous people in Chittagong Hill Tracts and elsewhere observed the day through traditional festivities.

Sammilita Sangskritik Jote staged cultural function at Rabindra Sarobar at Dhanmondi. Bangla Academy, Nazrul Institute, Shilpakala Academy and Kochi-Kanchar Mela organised special cultural programmes to mark the day.

Students of the Institute of Fine Arts of Dhaka University bring out a colourful procession in the morning of Pahela Baishakh, the first day of Bangla New Year, on Thursday. PHOTO: STAR