Another Pahela Baishakh, the Bangla New Year's Day, is knocking at the door. Celebrating the day amid fun and festivity has already turned into a big business no doubt. Baishakh is now the second largest shopping spree in the country after Eid-ul-Fitr. The traditional Baishakhi Mela or Baishakh Fair of villages has now transformed into urban trade exposition and even virtual or online trade event thanks to fast moving information technology.
Clothing and foods are the two main things for those consumers across the country, especially in urban areas, who spend their major portion of Baishakhi budget. They also spend on traditional handicrafts and ornaments. Cultural events in Dhaka and other parts of the country attract crowd and people enjoy music, dance and drama. There is a guesstimate that the Baishakhi festival is a market of Tk 70-80 billion as the businesses from posh fashion houses to marginal women entrepreneurs are getting their share of the market. The trend of money supply in the previous years may reflect the business boom. According to the central bank statistics, net money supply (M2) in April, 2016 was Tk 82.29 billion which was Tk 38.05 billion in April, 2015. Though it dropped to Tk 64.40 billion in April 2017, the amount is reasonably indicative of Boishakhi spending.
While Boishakhi business is growing, the socio-cultural connectivity of the Bangla New Year's Day is still not overshadowed as claimed by some. Inviting families and friends and handing over gifts of Boishakh are vividly there. And book can be easily a Boishakhi gift for all. In fact, it was in early '80s when a national level initiative was there to give book as a Boishakhi present. Noboborshe priyojonke boi upoher din (Give a book to your dear one as a gift in (Bangla) New Year) was the catchphrase introduced by Mr Fazle Rabbi, the then director of National Book Centre. In later years, the initiative, however, waned gradually.
But book as a gift in Bangla New Year is still appealing. Over the years, some people and libraries in different parts of the country are trying to promote the concept with their limited means. Some corporate and business houses are also adding books in their Boishakhi gift packages.
In fact, Boishakh may be a boost for book sale across the country. Many people couldn't go to Ekushey book fair and collect their desired books. To reach them, the publishers may launch a Boishakhi campaign about their latest books through print and electronic media as well as online outlets. As online book purchase becomes popular now, such a campaign is likely to enhance the sales on the eve of Boishakh.
There is no doubt that book as a gift is always more precious than any other thing. By giving books to their children, parents can encourage them to build up a good habit of book reading and presenting. Schools and colleges can take steps to encourage their students to celebrate the Bangla New Year with book. As almost everyone is in a spending spree in Boishakh, it is a good opportunity to try to set a custom of giving books as a gift.
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