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Thoughts on 1426 BS

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Mariama Muarif :
Pahela Baishakh (Bangla new year) is a very significant and the  exuberant festival of our Culture. Since the first day of Baishakh falls on every 14th April in the Gregorian Calendar, we Bangladeshis Celebrate the Bangla New Year on that day with much grandeur, and just like the previous centuries, this time the celebrations are also exceptional as well as meaningful. This year the Bangla Calendar will be marking its 1426th year and the entire nation is prepared to keep a record of it commemorating the country's inimitable socio-cultural history. Similar to Bangladesh, the festival is celebrated in different parts of India, especially in the West Bengal. However the difference is, they observe the Day on April 15 instead of April 14 as they count the month Baishakh in 31 days while the Bangladeshis consider it as of 30 days. Apart from this Indian subcontinent, the festival is also celebrated all over the world among the Bengali communities and that is how the joy of Bangla New Year surpasses the racial, national and cultural boundaries.
Bangladeshis do value the English New Year but it is Pahela Baishakh that they eagerly wait for as it is the festival of their own Culture or tradition. Each year we see rallies or processions coming out of different organizations in which students and commoners join side by side highlighting Bengali traditions through different artworks, banners etc. One special rally that is conducted by the Fine Arts Institute of Dhaka University always outshines the rest with its thematic and artistic representation of Bengali traditional aspects. Moreover, the aretifacts such as  caricatures, hand made clay dolls, colorful banners and festoons provide a new dimension in the Baishakhi or Bangla New Year celebration.
New Year marks the beginning of a new period and it rejuvenates the psyche of human beings with new thoughts or resolutions. Every year the Bangla New Year is celebrated with a new theme, with a new aim to make the country more prosperous and peaceful for the natives. People gather at the age-old Ramna park, sit under the Bnayan tree and the artistes sing the songs of rejuvenation, of reformation. People wear colorful clothes to highlight the cheery essence of summer as well as to glorify the versatility of Bengali traditions. Beside this, people visit different Boishakhi fairs where the sellers sell ethnic or folkloric musical instruments such as Ektara, Dotara, Dugdugi, traditional attires such as Saree, Fatua etc. and they eat Panta-Ilish as rice and fish are the staple food of Bangladeshis.
Pahela Baishakh or Bangla New Year festival is the festival of colors. It is the festival of Bengali nationalism. It is that secular occasion that brings people together irrespective of their race, religion or color.
 This Day also has its significance in the corporate world. The Day was originally celebrated by the business personnel as they used to make new deals or new ventures considering the first day of new year pretty auspicious. Since the earliest days till now, the merchants or businessmen have kept up this trend to utilise the event of Pahela Baishakh to progress further or to expand their business both nationally and globally.
Nevertheless, whenever there is a celebration, there are crowds and not every person is the same. There are some people who do not value the true significance of this festival and harass others. Taking advantage of the Bangla New Year some businessmen make bizarre trade policies that hamper national economy. On the other hand, there are some others who spread their propaganda regarding race, religion and culture. There were some tragic events that happened during the Bangla New Year festival in the past and those events were conducted only to destroy the hertitage, the authenticity of Bangladeshi Culture. It is Bangladeshis' courage, determination and love which have still kept the tradition of Pahela Baishakh alive. Moreover, the government has taken tremendous initiatives, has made effective laws so that people can celebrate the festival of their souls without any hassle. Nowdays the security system is much stronger and people need to be quite disciplined if they want to participate in any event during the celebration of Pahela Baiskhakh. Now the celebration is not just about highlighting culture and ethnicity but also about showcasing cooperation, approbation and unity. There are certain rules that a person needs to follow if he or she wants to go out and celebrate the Bangla New Year with the fellow countrymen such as, they cannot use public or private transports in those areas where different events are taking place, they should go through the security system to show they are not carrying anything controversial and so on. At present, people are provided with drinking water, snacks, with Baishakhi goodies by different governmental and non-governmental organizations so that they can get the best out of their favorite occasion.
It has already been mentioned that each year the Bangla New Year or Pahela Baishakh is celebrated with a new theme and with a new hope to abolish negativity, sufferings and immorality from the nation. This year's Pahela Baishakh is with a message of redeveloping the socio-cultural sectors of Bangladesh.
People are not only making new resolutions and celebration plans, they are actually desiring that the spirit of Pahela Baishakh will eanhance the unity of people, will assist them to be more patient and optimistic so that they can preserve the essential elements of Bengali tradition and can keep their mission on in creating a beautiful Bangladesh.    

(The writer is Lecturer, Department of English, Northern University Bangladesh. Email: rimleerim@gmail.com)

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