The nation is celebrating the Pahela Baishakh, the first day of Bangla calendar on Tuesday amid fanfare, festivity and gaiety.
True to their centuries old tradition, people from all walks of life started thronging different popular and historic spots in the capital and elsewhere across the country to hail the New Year 1422 with new hopes and aspirations for a better, peaceful year.
The celebrations of Pahela Baishakh have become an integral part of Bangalees since it began six centuries ago.
The same jubilation mood is also there in Paschimbanga and other Bangla-speaking parts of India as they also celebrate the Pahela Baishakh, but a day later. They will celebrate the Bangla New Year on Wednesday.
Mughal Emperor Akbar introduced the Bangla calendar in the 1556 of the Gregorian calendar in a bid to streamline the timing of land tax collection in the then ‘Subah Bangla’ region, the much of which falls under Bangladesh.
The day is a public holiday.
President Abdul Hamid, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia issued separate messages greeting the country’s people as well as all Bangla-speaking people across the globe on the occasion.
Traders and shopkeepers across the country open ‘Halkhata’ (new book of accounts) and entertain customers and visitors with sweetmeat on the first day of the New Year as part of the tradition and culture.
People from all walks of life, especially the youth, came out on the roads at daybreak wearing traditional dresses to celebrate the day.
Thousands of people are flocking to traditional venues at different parts of the capital, including Ramna Park, Suhrawardy Udyan, Central Shaheed Minar, Dhaka University, Shahbagh and Dhanmondi Lake areas, to welcome the New Year amid pageantry.
The most colourful celebration of the Bangla New Year began at the Ramna Batamul at dawn with an elaborate programme undertaken by Chhayanaut, a leading cultural troupe.
Artistes from Chhayanaut welcomed the day with Rabindranath Tagore’s famous song ‘Esho hey Baishakh, esho, esho (come O Baishakh, come)’ under the banyan tree at the Ramna Park.
Students of the Institute of Fine Arts of Dhaka University, wearing colourful masks, are set to take out a ‘mangal shobhajatra (procession of good wishes)’ as part of the festival.
Men wearing panjabi-pyjama, women attired in sari with red borders and children in colourful dresses all will throng traditional Baishakhi Melas (fairs) and other cultural functions in the city and elsewhere in the country all day long.
People are partaking of ‘Panta Bhat (watery rice)’ with fried hilsa, lentils, green chilli and onions at home, restaurants and fairs following the rich tradition of Bangla culture.
Though the observance of Pahela Baishakh has become popular in cities, but New Year festivities are deeply linked with the rural Bangladesh.