The eastern sky was etched in radiant hues of red and orange, heralding the arrival of a new day. Below it, an array of festive colours sparkled on the lush green fields of Ramna. After two years of muffled celebrations, Bengalis were ready to greet Pahela Boishakh, the first day of the Bangla calendar, with renewed hope and optimism, bdnews24.com reports.
And with men and women decked up in vibrant colours, innocent smiles beaming across the painted cheeks of children, Chhayanaut’s curtain-raising event at dawn and the evocative masks on display at the Mongol Shobhajatra, Bangladesh rang in the Bangla New Year 1429 with customary zeal and fervour.
As the first ray of the sun touched the ground, Chhayanaut began its new year's programme with renditions of classical songs at Ramna Batamul. It was followed by a chorus of Tagore's song ‘Mon Jago Mongolaloke’.
Chhayanaut, a pre-eminent cultural platform, was established in 1967 by cultural activists to create national awareness against Pakistani military rule. The first Bangla New Year celebrations in Ramna Batamul were held in the same year.
This year, the organisation has arranged 37 performances of songs and recitations by 85 artists.
Thursday marked a return to normalcy as people streamed into Ramna early to celebrate Pahela Boishakh, just as they did before the onset of the pandemic.
Afterwards, Dhaka University brought out the Mongol Shobhajatra, a thematic parade that ushers in the new year. The procession has its roots in the political struggle of the land. The Mongol Shobhajatra was initiated in the 1980s as a means to restore democracy in Bangladesh after a prolonged period of military rule. The procession, declared a UNESCO cultural heritage in 2016, was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic. A symbolic, scaled-down procession was held in 2021.
This year, the Mongol Shobhajatra was redirected from the Dhaka University TSC to the VC Square due to construction work on the Metrorail project.
However, Dhaka University's Department of Music has decided against organising any event at Bokul Tala due to the ongoing exams at the department.
The Sammilito Sangskritik Jote has also postponed its celebratory programme at Dhanmondi's Rabindra Sarobar.
Some other organisations, including Bangla Academy, Kabi Nazrul Institute, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, Bangladesh Shishu Academy, Bangladesh National Museum, Bulbul Academy of Fine Arts, Liberation War Museum have organised programmes to celebrate the new year.
The Ministry of Cultural Affairs has arranged quiz competitions, cultural programmes and fairs across the country.
However, the Dhaka Metropolitan Police set a 2pm deadline to end all Pahela Boishakh programmes as the Bangla New Year is being celebrated during Ramadan.
No masks can be worn or bags carried on the Dhaka University campus during this year’s celebrations, according to a statement from the university. However, people will be able to carry masks made by the fine arts institute in hand while taking part in the Mongol Shobhajatra.
The university has also banned the sales and use of vuvuzelas on campus.