Bangalees' biggest carnival todayStaff CorrespondentWith the sunrise ushering in Pahela Baishakh, people from all walks of life will welcome Bangla New Year 1414 today all over the country while most residents of the capital will throng Ramna Batomul to take part in the biggest carnival of the Bangalees.
Men in panjabi and pyjama, women in sari, and children in colourful dress--all will gather at traditional Baishakhi Mela (fair)--a major feature of the celebration of the first day of Bangla New Year. The celebrations also feature cultural functions at Ramna Udyan, Institute of Fine Arts of Dhaka University (DU), and other places in the capital and elsewhere.
The festivity starts off early in the morning with the gathering of thousands of people under the banyan tree at Ramna Udyan where artistes of cultural organisation Chhayanaut will sing the traditional Pahela Baishakh song of Rabindranath Tagore--"Esho hey Baishakh"--to welcome the day.
Mangal Shobhajatra, a procession seeking well-being of all, will start from the Institute of Fine Arts in the morning.
People will be gorging themselves on delicacies--Panta Bhat (rice soaked in water), hilsha fry, lentil and smoked chilli--at home and places of Baishakhi congregations.
Three-layer security measures have been taken to dispel concerns that stemmed from the deadly bomb blasts at the Chhayanaut Pahela Baishakh programme in 2001 killing at least 10 people.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police declared the roads from Shahbagh to Matsya Bhaban and from Teachers-Students Centre (TSC) to Doel Chattar off-limits to vehicles.
The day is a public holiday. Numerous social, political and cultural organisations have chalked out elaborate programmes to celebrate the day.
Bangladesh Betar and all television channels will air special programmes and newspapers will publish special supplements.
The start of Bangla year with Baishakh has its roots in the days of Mughal Emperor Akbar during 1556-1609. According to one of several opinions about the origin of Bangla year, this was the time when peasants used to pay their taxes to the emperor.
When Bangladesh came under the Mughal rule in 1576, Akbar decided to adopt the Hijri year and termed this season "Fasali" (crop). Thus, Pahela Baishakh marked the start of the crop season.
The present form of the Pahela Baishakh celebrations has some political significance and was introduced in 1965 when Chhayanaut organised its celebration programmes in protest against the suppression of Bangalee culture by the then Pakistan government.
After independence in 1971, the festival became a symbol of the country's nationalist movement as well as an integral part of the people's cultural heritage.
Awami League President Sheikh Hasina, BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia and its Secretary General Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan, and Liberal Democratic Party President AQM Badruddoza Chowdhury gave separate messages on the occasion of Pahela Baishakh and conveyed New Year's greetings to the people.
CULTURAL PROGRAMMESThe main attraction of the day is Chhayanaut artistes' rendition of Baishakhi welcome songs at Ramna Udyan at sunrise.
The Institute of Fine Arts yesterday started three-day programmes to celebrate the Bangla New Year.
Students and teachers of the institute will bring out the Mangal Shobhajatra at 9:30am. Puppet show and other traditional cultural programmes will be held at the Bakultala of the institute from 11:00am.
The Baishakh Udjapan Council will hold cultural functions at different places in the city.
The DU chalked out a five-day Baishakh Festival at TSC from April 15 to 19.
Dhaka City Corporation will keep open the Shaheed Zia Shishu Park for all on the day from 11:00am.
Sammilito Sangskritik Jote will organise cultural programmes at the Rabindra Sarobar amphitheatre in Dhanmondi and the Central Shaheed Minar at 4:30pm.
The Liberation War Museum organises a cultural programme on its premises from 10:00am.
Cultural organisation Monpala organises its programme at TSC from 9:00am to 1:00pm today.
Wrishiz Shilpi Gosthi organises a cultural programme at the Narkelbithi Chattar on Bhashani Road. Poet Mahbub Ul Alam will be inaugurate the programme.
Bangladesh Shishu Sangathan Oikya Jote will organise a "dress as you like" programme for children at Bangladesh Shishu Academy at 9:00am.
Pink City will organise a celebration programme at East Baridhara in the afternoon. Justice Latifur Rahman, Justice Mohammad Abdur Rouf, Justice Sultan Hossain Khan and other renowned personalities will be present at the programme.
Sonargaon Hotel will also celebrate Pahela Baishakh with "authentic Bangladeshi cuisine" at its restaurants. There will be arrangements for folk songs.
Suryasen Bitarka Dhara will organise an open debate at the DU business studies faculty at 7:00pm.
Publication house Oitijya will sell its books at 40 percent discount from its Banglabazar outlet on the day.
The Dhaka Club will celebrate Pahela Baishakh by holding a session of folk and patriotic songs.
The Bengal Foundation has arranged a three-day music programme at the Bengal Gallery of Fine Arts from yesterday.
Sangskritik Jote and Jogsutro will hold a cultural programme at Jahangirnagar University.
Among other organisations, Gulshan Society, Baridhara Society, Bangladesh Chhatra Maitree, Bangladesh Kite Association, Pratibandhi Kalyan Society, Dhakabashi, Benuka Institute of Fine Arts, American International University have chalked out celebration programmes.