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Pohela Falgun

By Durdana Ghias

This year once again we are going to celebrate the first day of spring Pohela Falgun. Spring or Boshonto consists of two months Falgun and Choitra. We celebrate the first day of Falgun to welcome Boshonto, the season of flowers and all the vibrant colours.

The advent of Falgun wipes away the dry and chilling elements of winter with a subtle touch of warmness. But how much do we know about Pohela Falgun apart from this that the girls roam around the DU campus wrapping themselves up in striking colours and that it is a great day for the love birds?

According to the history of Mughal period Emperor Akbar started the Bengali year in 1585 AD with the intention of collecting revenue by following the solar year. At that time nowroz or the first day of the Bengali year was celebrated with great enthusiasm. Emperor Akbar who was secular in nature abolished all Muslim festivals and introduced fourteen new festivals for the new Bengali year.

The names of the months were not like the present form at that time. It is not known exactly when they became Boiskakh, Jaishthya etc. but all these names were derived from the names of the stars.

The name Falgun came from the star Falguni. The reason behind the naming after starts is that in the Vedic Age (1500 BC) the rishis (ancient Indian scholars) had an obsession with astrology and the stars. Though they use to follow the solar year the mention of Falguni (spring) full moon in Vedic Literature suggests that lunar months were also calculated. Probably the traditional inclination of the rishis to the moon and stars led to the naming of the months after stars.

The significance of Pohela Falgun is very singular in our national life. The way we celebrate Pohela Boishakh and Pohela Falgun in Bangladesh these days started to flourish after the arousal of Bengali Nationalism in 1950s and 1960s.

After the Language Movement people of East Pakistan started to celebrate festivals which were related to the Bengali culture silently defying the anti-Bengali attitude of the then Pakistan Government.

Cultural bodies and general people started celebrating these events with Tagore songs which was banned in 1960s. So celebrating Pohela Falgun was not for having fun only at that time. It was a display of our nationalism.

In the pre-independence period these days worked as a way to flaunt Bengali Nationalism. Unfortunately fundamentalist elements are still in full swing in our country to spoil our national spirit. So it is time again that we start celebrating Pohela Falgun with a renewed enthusiasm with which it was celebrated in the pre-independence period.

The days Pohela Falgun and Boishakh are our two efforts at warding off fundamentalist and anti- nationalistic forces.

These two days are parts of our National Heritage and National History like the Independence Day, the Victory Day and the Language Martyrs Day.

These are meant not for fashion conscious people and love birds only. These days were and are a way to protest fundamentalism, a way to defy racist bans and to protect our national pride and glory.

The standsill...

By Taskin Rahman

Bangladesh, dismayed by an Indian decision not to attend a South Asian summit in the Bangladeshi capital next week, said on Thursday that it had to maintain good ties with its giant neighbour, India. The South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC) summit was postponed on Wednesday when Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh pulled out because of a political crisis in Nepal and security concerns in Bangladesh.

SAARC, an economic grouping formed in 1985, includes India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and the Maldives.

When Bangladesh criticised India's decision of not attending the summit, our ex-foreign minister Abdus Samad Azad had a contrasting opinion. "Bangladeshi government does not have the ability or credibility to hold such events like a SAARC summit while the country is in a political shambles," Azad said in remarks published on Thursday.

If someone is from the opposition party, which is supposedly against the ruling party, it does not mean that that person has to be against the country as well, does it?

Bangladesh has been smashed by a series of violence and a former finance minister and four other people were killed in an attack on an opposition rally about 2 weeks ago.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) would provide all possible 'technical' support to investigate the deadly grenade attacks on opposition rallies in five months in Bangladesh. "FBI can provide support for forensic purposes but can't find out the perpetrators from remote areas of a country. Their job is to find out clues and maintaining liaison with concerned departments," US Ambassador in Dhaka, Harry K Thomas told reporters here on Thursday.

The first attack took place in August, last year, during a rally of 15,000 Awami League supporters outside the party's headquarters in the capital Dhaka, called to protest bomb attacks, political killings and the rising Islamic fundamentalism. Grenades were thrown at the stage as Sheikh Hasina was finishing her speech. Hasina was bundled into her bulletproof car and rushed away. While she escaped major injury, 20 others were killed and 300 were injured.

It is evident that the people of Bangladesh, as of now, hope for the culprits to be caught, but they don't expect that to happen. Reports that had been about the bombings, all mentioned the term suspect, but since the suspects hadn't been convicted as yet, the nation craves for their punishment. With the modern mode of civil defence RAB, going on rampant crossfire in which, coincidentally the criminals have died over the past few months, but the crime hasn't decreased as yet.

At this standstill, the country's hope for political stabilisation and a secured life for civilians seems like a mirage, beyond a reachable horizon.


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