Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home


More than just bright colours this Pohela Boishakh

WHEN we think of Pohela Boishakh the usual image in our mind is of colours, fairs, huge crowds, heat, panta bhaat and irregular bowel movements; what most of us have come to enjoy about the day in recent years is the fact that it's a holiday from work and school. While this gives us ample opportunity to sleep in till well after lunchtime, most amongst us do go out to enjoy the festivities- the fairs, the live performances, or just a walk followed by eating out. It is also customary to buy useless trinkets and traditional clay products and faux-musical instruments on Pohela Boishakh at a hiked up price all in the spirit of showing how 'Bengali' you are, but before you tug at your wallet why don't you stop and think about what the day really is about.

Many festivals connected with Pohela Boishakh have disappeared, while many have been added. Kite flying in Dhaka and bull racing in Munshiganj used to be highlight events; horse races, bullfights, cockfights, flying pigeons, boat racing were once all popular events of the big day. But one huge change a lot of us have never been aware of is the abolition of the zamindari system, and the punya connected with the closing of land revenue accounts disappearing.

Pohela Boishakh basically used to be the start of the fiscal year. The previous year's accounts would all be closed and new ones drawn up, amidst great festivities. The revelry connected to Pohela Boishakh with regards to accounting is no longer observed, in the effort to keep up with modern business. Regardless of this, April should still be a month of financial awareness. In countries like Canada, Japan, India, United Kingdom, and Hong Kong amongst others, the fiscal year starts from April 1st. In Bangladesh as with a lot of other countries however, the fiscal year starts later, from July. In spite of this, think of what April 14th really is- a new year, a time to make a new start, the perfect time, if any, to make that change you've been looking to make.

Let us think about the financial crisis. With businesses worldwide collapsing, being declared bankrupt, asking for government bailouts, workers finding themselves unemployed overnight in droves- is the best way to start the new year really by buying that ektara that you're not even going to look at once you get home? What one does on the first day of the year resonates for the rest of the year. We definitely will enjoy the day to the fullest but at a time like this we must also be pragmatic about how we spend; because if you keep buying things you don't need you'll soon end up having to sell things you do need.

Think of utility. Does what you buy have any utility? In financial guru Warren Buffett's words about utility with regards to gold, “It gets dug out of the ground in Africa, or someplace. Then we melt it down, dig another hole, bury it again and pay people to stand around guarding it. It has no utility. Anyone watching from Mars would be scratching their head.”

With where the world is headed we are in no position to spend without thinking about it. The state of things shouldn't stop us from ushering in a new year with enthusiasm, but we do so dampened optimism. No matter how old, in what profession and what class, thinking rationally, all of our peace is threatened by this financial illness. Most of us are desperately seeking a way out of this, or bracing ourselves for the worst to come- but one thing we all expect is for the financial experts to somehow take care of the problem, ignoring the fact that they caused this flux in the first place.

The way to remain stable is to start by taking a look at your own life. No one man can solve all these problems, but everyone has the ability to at least take care of him or herself. A strict set of principles must be followed for that, however. Warren Buffett, currently the second richest man in the world, has shared with everyone this year a couple of old maxims that he has adopted as beacons to guide his future. And he assures that anyone who already follows these precepts is financially healthy, and those who resolve to start following them will be forthwith. It is for each individual to decide what's best for him or her, but let us take the following into account and really look hard at ourselves.

Hard Work- All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.

Laziness- A sleeping lobster is carried away by the water current.

Earnings- Never depend on a single source of income.

Savings- Don't save what is left after spending. Spend what is left after saving.

Borrowings- The borrower becomes the lender's slave.

Accounting- It's no use carrying an umbrella, if your shoes are leaking.

Auditing- Beware of little expenses; a small leak can sink a ship.

Risk-taking- Never test the depth of the river with both feet.

Investment- Don't put all your eggs in one basket.
The next time we make a financial decision, I hope we can all think of these maxims in a clear headed, level way. The state of the world today is no reason to not celebrate a great day meant to be celebrated, but it's also important to take into account the true meaning of the day, and to be grounded to reality. The economy is bad enough as it is now, but it's only going to get worse in the coming days. With some thought, and some consideration, we can survive whatever comes our way. Have some reservation, as you enjoy an otherwise great Pohela Boishakh! The year ahead is long and hard.

StreetAuthority.com's Financial Glossary
CIA The World Factbook

By Ahsan Sajid

Boishakh: not in Bangladesh only…

THE new sun comes up and shines happily over the people who have gathered to celebrate the Bengali New Year. Take in a deep breath and you will feel as if all your past sorrows have been blown away by the fresh air to make way for new happiness. Grey clouds gather in the sky- drum rolls can be heard, echoed by the sound of the dhol on the ground. With the clap of thunder and a burst of rain or hail comes the Bengali New Year, Pohela Boishakh. Everyone screams “Shubho Noboborsho”.

The lines “Botshorer Aborjona, Dur Hiye Jak” blares out of a nearby speaker. It means that we should wash away the old year's wastes and welcome a new era with open arms. It is very interesting that in Cambodia, people have a similar idea. They celebrate their new year from 13 15nth April. The rituals include washing themselves and the statues of Buddha. All the past pain is cleansed away with the water. They also harvest their crops and sow new seeds. They hope the rain will bring a new and better life for them. Like us, the Cambodians wear new clothes and decorate to mark this special day.

There is another festival celebrated in Sri Lanka called “Wesak”. The name sounds similar to our Bengali festival “Boishakh'. Wesak is a lot like the Cambodian new year.

Sri Lankan people wear new clothes and decorate their homes. But this is not a new year celebration. They celebrate the birth, enlightenment, and death of the Buddha. People donate religious books, food and blood to the needy. Remarkably in Bangladesh also different organizations arrange blood donations on the Boishakhi festival.

Wesak festival is also celebrated in Malaysia and Indonesia by the Buddhist community. In Indonesia it is known as Waisak. The day is recognised on the eighth day of the fourth month in the Chinese lunar calendar and celebrations take place at Buddhist temples throughout Java and one of the biggest celebrations takes place at Borobodur in Yogyakarta.

One of the perks of globalization is that we know what is happening in near and far off countries very easily. So we exchange, borrow, copy, steal, pirate or share ideas and views with each other. We see an example of this in the above commemorations with a few divergences. One thing is common- these festivals are occasions for people to get together, laugh and cry together and pray together for a better tomorrow. Our rituals may be different but it is definitely a time to stand side-by-side and enjoy- whether it is “Boishakh”, “Waisak” or “Wesak”.

By Nishita Aurnab
References: Wikipedia, BBC and iExplore

Things to do on the Pahela Boishakh

Paint your face with a funky design, something that goes well with the Boishakhi theme. How about drawing a twister on the face (goes well with the 'kalboisakhi thing)?
Or buy a paintbrush and try out your latent talent for arts on guinea pigs on the streets. Muhahaha.
May be you can shave your head and draw something there; let's say a horrible mask with teeth baring and eyes glaring, the kind you see in the processions.
Buy a dhol (drum) or a dugdugi and bang it. And also sing “melay jaire, melay jaire” at the top of your voice.
Wear a Panjabi, payjama and trainers.
Or better still, wear a tee shirt, a pair of jeans and a cap showing utmost disregard to everything.

By Jawad Mahmud


home | Issues | The Daily Star Home

2009 The Daily Star