The nation celebrates Pahela Baishakh, the first day of the Bengali New Year 1426, today amidst restriction on outdoor programmes after 6:00pm, use of mask and vuvuzela.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police also slapped a ban on traffic movement in certain areas in the capital.
Pahela Baishakh is one of the most colourful festivals through which the Bengalis bid farewell to the old year and welcome the New Year.
People, irrespective of age, religion and ethnicity, usually welcome Bengali 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 three years, the government imposed a ban on any outdoor programme after 6:00pm and use of mask in the procession showing security concern, ignoring demands from the cultural organisations.
Home minister Asaduzzaman Khan at a briefing at the ministry on April 3 imposed the ban.
After visiting the security arrangement at main celebration venue Ramna park on Saturday, the minister told reporters that main celebration venues, including Ramna Park, Suhrawardi Udyan, Dhaka University, Rabindra Sarobar, Hatirjheel, Gulshan Park, Bahadurshah Park and their surrounding areas would be under stringent security arrangement by setting up closed circuit cameras, archways, and watch towers and deploying law enforcers in large numbers.
The city dwellers have been requested not to carry trolley bag, large vanity bag, knife, firearms, scissor, blade and gaslight for the sake of security.
Amidst restrictions and tight security arrangement, a stage erected for the celebration of Chaitra Sankranti and Pahela Baishakh at Dhaka University was set on fire early Saturday allegedly by a group of ruling Awami League-backed student body Bangladesh Chhatra League.
Chhatra League general secretary Golam Rabbani while talking to reporters alleged that blamed Chhatra League president Rezwanul Hoque Chowdhury for foiling the concert by his supporters.
University proctor AKM Golam Rabbani said that the university authority cancelled the scheduled Baishakhi concert organised by Chhatra League and sponsored by a beverage company due to unavoidable reason.
Like the past three years, Dhaka Metropolitan Police imposed ban on traffic movements on Bangla Motor-Ruposhi Bangla-Shahbagh-TSC-Doel Chattar, Ruposhi Bangla-Kakrail-Matshya Bhaban-Kodom Foara, Matshya Bhaban-Shahbagh-Kantaban, Polashi-Shaheed Minar-Doel Chattar-High Court Crossing, Bakshibazar-Shaheed Minar-TSC, Shahidullah Hall Crossing-Doel Chattar and Nilkhet-TSC roads.
DMP requested all to use alternative roads.
The Bengali year with its first month Baishakh was introduced during the rule of Mughal Emperor Akbar the Great.
In separate messages president M Abdul Hamid, prime minister Sheikh Hasina, BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam, Jatiya Party chairman HM Ershad greeted the nation on the occasion of Pahela Baishakh.
The president, in his message, said that Bangla Nababarsha was an inseparable part of Bengali culture.
This is a universal and non-communal festival, he added.
In her message, Hasina said that the nation would start the first day of Bengali New Year with the hope of progress of life forgetting all shortcomings and sorrows.
She wished that the Bengali New Year 1426 would bring happiness, peace and progress for the country.
People irrespective of age, religious and ethnicity usually celebrate Pahela Baishakh every year by organising fairs, colourful processions, cultural shows, and arranging especial dishes, including, traditional sweetmeats and panta (rice soaked in water overnight).
Following the age-old tradition, the traders entertain their permanent customers with sweetmeats.
Women usually wear colourful saris and bangles, while men wear punjabis for celebrating the day. The fashion houses in the capital were found busy in the past two weeks meeting demands of suitable attires for celebrating the Pahela Baishakh Bangla.
The day’s celebrations programme in the capital will begin at 06:15am on Sunday at Ramna Batamul with presentation of an instrumental number glorifying the purity of the nature by the Chhayanaut musicians.
Chhayanaut artistes, who have celebrating the day since 1967 at the same place, will also present songs and poems by Rabindranath Tagore, Kazi Nazrul Islam, Atul Prasad Sen, Dwijendralal Roy, Rajanikanta Sen, Lalon Shah, Mukundu Das, Shah Abdul Karim and others.
Like the previous years, Dhaka University’s fine arts faculty students will bring out a colourful procession from the Charukala premises at 09:00am, which will travel through Shahbagh intersection, Dhaka Club and then will return to the faculty.
This year’s procession will glorify the spirit of the youth through huge replicas of colourful birds and a pankhiraj, said faculty dean Nisar Hussain.
There will also some common motifs in the procession, he said adding that Mangal Shobhajatra had been organising regularly since 1989 and for its uniqueness the procession got UNESCO recognition as an intangible cultural heritage for humanity in 2016.
Cultural organisation Surer Dhara will celebrate the day at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre beginning at 06:15am today. Prime minister Sheikh Hasina and her Bhutanese counterpart Lotay Tshering are expected to attend the programme.
Different other government agencies, including, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, Bangla Academy and Bangladesh National Museum will celebrate the day organising programmes.
Different cultural and social organisations will celebrate the day in all the district and upazila headquarters.
While Bengalis celebrate Pahela Baishakh, the ethnic minorities in the Chittagong Hill Tracts hold the Baisabi at the same time.
On Baisabi — 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 day is a public holiday.
Bangladesh Betar, Bangladesh Television and all private television and radio channels will air special programmes while newspapers will publish special supplements.
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