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Bangladesh suspends Pahela Baishakh celebrations amid coronavirus outbreak

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The government has cancelled all public programmes marking Pahela Baishakh, the Bengali New Year, to avoid mass gatherings as part of its efforts to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

In this regard, the Cabinet Division on Wednesday issued a circular signed by its deputy secretary Mohammad Abdul Wadud Chowdhury, reports BSS.

To prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the authorities concerned are requested to cancel all the programmes of Bengali New Year- 1427, including traditional festival of the ethnic minority communities in the three districts of the Chattogram Hill Tracts, to avoid public gatherings, the circular said.

According to, the Cabinet Division also asked the Ministry of Cultural Affairs to take the necessary steps to stop New Year celebrations across the country.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, in a video conference, instructed district administrators and field-level officials to be vigilant against public events celebrating the Bengali New Year as the government tries to limit the risks of the coronavirus.

 “I think everyone can celebrate the arrival of the Bengali New Year digitally and I urge all to do so properly. But holding festivals involving huge public gatherings must be avoided at all costs. It’s my special request,” the prime minister said.

The Bengali New Year 1427 will begin on April 14. It forms an integral part of Bengali culture and is usually celebrated with great enthusiasm and festivity.

The morning begins with a procession brought out from the Faculty of Fine Arts, which has been recognised by UNESCO as an ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity’.

Bangladesh announced a shutdown, initially from March 26 to April 4, for all government and private institutions before extending it to April 11, in a bid to limit the risks of coronavirus. The government has also imposed a ban on all public gatherings.

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