The nation ushers in Bangla New Year 1425 on Pahela Baishakh, the first day of Bangla calendar, today amid government restriction on any outdoor programme after 5:00pm, which drew criticism from cultural and rights activists.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police also slapped a ban on wearing of masks and play vuvuzela on the day to avert any untoward incident.
Cultural organisation Bangladesh Udichi Shilpigoshthi held rallies across
the country on Friday and Nari Nirapatta Jote and Amrai Pari from a press conference on Thursday protested against government restriction on Bangla New Year celebrations and demanded withdrawal of such restriction.
People, irrespective of age, religion and ethnicity, usually welcome Bangla New Year every year through colourful processions, songs and fairs, and many programmes run till late into the night, beginning at dawn.
Besides fairs and festivity, businesses start the day on a new ledger, closing out the last year’s one.
Like the past two years, Dhaka Metropolitan Police officially imposed a ban on any outdoor programme after 5:00pm in the capital. They, however, said events at Rabindra Sarobar in Dhanmondi could continue to 7:00pm.
DMP commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia at a media briefing at his office on Thursday said a special team would be deployed to prevent sexual harassment during the festival.
He said that all-out security measures were taken to ensure foolproof security of Pahela Baishakh celebrations in the capital.
Police will cordon off important venues at Dhaka University, Ramna Park, Teachers-Student Centre, Shahbagh and Suhrawardy Udyan areas for ensuring smooth celebrations of the first day of Bangla New Year, he said.
Besides, law enforcers would put up barricades at Nilkhet, Palashi and Bangla Motors areas as no vehicles would be allowed into the areas, he added.
The DMP boss said people would enter the venues through archway and metal detectors.
The security would be same in Hatirjheel and Rabindra Sarobar areas, said Asaduzzaman.
Home minister Asaduzzman Khan on April 3 after a meeting on law and order on Pahela Baishakh at the secretariat said the government decided to impose the ban to ensure security.
Udichi Shilpigoshthi, protesting at the directives, held rallies across the country on Friday and their leaders said the festivity of Bengalis was supressed through such directives to end programmes by 5:00pm in the name of security.
Nari Nirapatta Jote and Amrai Pari, from a press conference at National Press Club on Thursday, said the government decision on wrapping up all programmes by 5:00pm ultimately made a scope for the perpetrators as the authorities would not take any responsibility if any harassment incidents would take place after that time.
‘The celebrations are universal and the law enforcers should provide round-the-clock security to the citizens,’ said rights activist Sultana Kamal, also chairman of Amrai Pari.
‘It is for a person to decide when and how long he or she will stay at home or outdoors,’ she said.
President Abdul Hamid and prime minister Sheikh Hasina issued messages greeting the nation on Bangla New Year.
United States of America’s acting secretary of state John J Sullivan on behalf of president Donald Trump and the American people wished a joyous Bangla New Year.
Thousands of people in the capital Dhaka will gather at Ramna Batamul, the main venue of the celebrations, at sunrise, where cultural organisation Chhayanaut has been holding a music soiree there since 1965.
Fine arts teachers and students of Dhaka University will bring out a procession from campus called ‘Mangal Shobhajatra’ with traditional objects reflecting Bengali culture and heritage in the morning.
The capital will put on a festive look, and, from early morning, people in traditional attire will throng Baishakhi Mela and other gatherings at Suhrawardy Udyan, Shahbagh, Dhaka University campus, Rabindra Sorobar and other venues, to celebrate the day.
People of others districts will also arrange Baishakhi Mela, cultural programmes and other gatherings, to celebrate the day. Bangladeshis living in other countries will also celebrate Pahela Baishakh by holding fairs and cultural programmes.
While Bengalis celebrate Pahela Baishakh, the hill communities of the Chittagong Hill Tracts, hold the Baisabi at the same time.
On Boisabi — a term formed by the first syllables of Tripura festival Baisuk, Marma’s Sangrain and Chakma festival Biju or Tanchangya’s Bisu — people welcome the new year.
The Bangla year with its first month Baishakh was introduced during the rule of Mughal Emperor Akbar the Great.
The day is a public holiday.
Bangladesh Betar and all television channels will air special programmes while newspapers will publish special supplements.
Chittagong-based Islamic platform Hefazat-e-Islam in a statement on Thursday said joining traditional Mangal Shovajatra was ‘forbidden’ for the Muslims.
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