Vol. 5 Num 315 Sat. April 16, 2005  

Bengal Baishakhi festival lures crowd

Dhakaites residing in the northern areas of the city, such as Gulshan, Banani, Baridhara, Badda, Jowar Shahara, rarely get a chance to have festivals to celebrate the Bangla New Year. When Bengal Foundation decided to organise a three-day-long Baishakhi celebration at the Gulshan Youth Club field, not only the outer Dhaka residents but Dhakaites from all over the city crowded the venue.

The festival was inaugurated on April 13 and on the first day, Chaitra Shangkranti--the traditional farewell to the spring season--was celebrated. A popular custom in the Old Dhaka is flying kites on the occasion of Baishakhi. This trend was observed at the festival.

Another attraction was the fanush, a large balloon made of light paper with stretched bolts at proper places with flat open 'mouth' at its bottom. Cotton or rags are wrapped around the main bolt and it flies free when fuelled by fire lit in a wrapper. Fanush is said to be the predecessor of flying balloons. Beautiful fanushes in different shapes mesmerised everyone as they made their way to infinity, illuminating the night sky.

The cultural programme on April 13 included Gazi Abdul Hakim's flute recital, dance performance by Nrittyadhara and Farida Parveen's rendition of Lalon songs.

On April 14, the first day of the Bangla New Year, the event started in the morning with greeting the new year with songs. The festival soon began to draw the crowds. Komola Ranir Shagor Dighee, an intriguing play, charmed the audience. Mystic songs performed by folk artistes also received applause.

An interesting feature of the festival was the presence of renowned artists Aminul Islam, Hashem Khan, Abdus Shakoor, Muhammad Eunus, Rokeya Sultana, Jamal Ahmed and Ranjit Das painting on different aspects of the Baishakhi festival and the season of summer. The fair-goers had a rare chance to see paintings-in-the-making.

In the evening, the cultural event started with classical music performed by the students of Parampara, a music school operated by Bengal Foundation. Solo performances by Mita Haque, Aditi Mohsin, Laisa Ahmed Lisa, Sharmin Shathi Islam, Shama Rahman, Sumon Chowdhury, Bulbul Islam and Yaqub Ali Khan followed. The event ended with a dance presentation--Chitrangada, presented by Dhrupad Kalakendra and Geetanjali.

Besides the cultural programme, the stalls at the festival, featuring handicrafts, painting, books, woven fabrics and clothes made out of local materials attracted people. Designer stores like Jatra, Aarong, Banglar Mela alongside small boutique shops participated at the fair.

It was a perfect occasion for the people of Dhaka to disregard last year's disappointments and welcome another year with new hopes and new dreams.

Artistes play dhol at the Barsho Bandana, a welcome note for the New Year