Pahela Baishakh is indeed a momentous occasion in the lives of all Bangalis. Being the first day of the Bangla calendar year, it is a time for rejoicing another brand new year, with colour and festivity. The new green leaves adorn the trees, the mouthwatering green mangoes fall to the ground enticingly and everything becomes rejuvenated with fresh life and hope.
The Pahela Baishakh so warmly celebrated all over the country today originated from an entirely different part of this sub-continent more than thousand miles away. A non-Bangali in whose grandfather's vein flowed the blood of both Gengis Khan and Tamerlane introduced the Bangla Saal.
What is popularly known as Bangla Saal today saw the light of day through an ordinance promulgated by Akbar the Great, the renowned grandson of Zahiruddin Muhammad Babar whose mother and father were descendants of Gengis Khan and Tamerlane respectively. It was to immortalise a significant occasion, a crucial juncture of history that the great Moghul introduced this new system of calendar 415 years ago.
The calendar so introduced was originally known as Tarikh-e-Elahi and it was introduced on the 10th or the 11th March in the 29th year of Akbar's reign i.e. in 1585 A. D. It, however, dates from the day of Akbar's ascension to the throne of Delhi and commemorates his coronation as the Emperor of India in 1556.
Most significant events in rural Bangladesh still take place according to this calendar. Baishakh is considered to be the most auspicious month for undertaking any business venture. On this day people dress traditionally and visit family and friends. There is a Baishakhi melas are everywhere. People of all ages crowd these melas to shop for traditional toys, handicrafts, and sweets. Snake charmers, jugglers, and magicians mesmerise the enthusiastic crowds. With song and dance Bangalis celebrate the most colourful day of the year.
Photographs by Zahedul I. Khan
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