The nation is set to celebrate Pahela Baishakh, the first day of Bangla calendar, on Thursday amid festivities and full enthusiasm after two years of hiatus caused by the Covid pandemic.

The festivities will begin at dawn with the artistes from Chhayanaut welcoming the day with Tagore’s famous song ‘Esho hey Baishakh, esho, esho (come O Baishakh, come)’ under the banyan tree at the Ramna Park.

True to their centuries old tradition, people from all walks of life will throng different popular and historic spots in the capital and elsewhere across the country to welcome the Bangla New Year, 1429 with new hopes and aspirations for a better, peaceful year.

However, as Pahela Baishakh will be celebrated during the holy month of Ramadan, the festivities have been scaled down.

Dhaka University is all set to welcome the Bengali New Year with the vibrancy and festivity.

Regarded as the educational and socio-cultural hub of the country, Dhaka University and its Faculty of Fine Arts (FFA), better known as Charukala, have taken preparations to observe this year’s Pahela Baishakh.

As this year’s Pahela Baishakh is knocking on the door to be celebrated with great enthusiasm after an unfortunate two-year break with restrictions on public gatherings and celebrations of public programmes in 2020 and 2021, this year the DU authority alongside its teachers and students has geared up to welcome the return of the festivities in the campus arena.

Traditionally, every year Dhaka University celebrates this national function with festive traits by arranging different sorts of functions including the colourful procession called the “Mangal Shobhajatra” (March of Good Tidings). The flagship procession was inscribed on UNESCO's Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2016.

According to the DU authority, this year's “Mangal Shobhajatra” will start from the university's Teacher-Student Centre (TSC) premises at 9 am. The procession will be brought out from the Sarak Deep area of the TSC, as the road in front of the FFA has been narrowed due to the ongoing construction work of Metro Rail.

Meanwhile, tight security measures have been taken to ensure smooth celebrations of Pahela Baishakh.

This year, the programmes for celebrating Pahela Baishakh must end by 2 pm and setting up of food stalls will not be allowed at Ramna fair premises due to Ramadan.

Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Commissioner Md Shafiqul Islam said these on Tuesday at a press briefing after overseeing the security arrangements at the city’s Ramna Batamul ahead of Bengali New Year.

He said, “Due to Ramadan, New Year celebrations will be a little bit different this year as no food stalls including that of ‘Panta Bhat’ will be permitted.”

Meanwhile, business people, especially in the rural areas, will open their traditional new account books 'Halkhata' and offer sweets to customers.

People from all classes and ages will enjoy all these programmes wearing colourful traditional Bengali outfits, Saree and Panjabi.

The celebrations of Pahela Baishakh have become an integral part of Bangalees since it began over six centuries back.

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.

On the occasion, President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina issued separate messages greeting the country's people and all Bangla-speaking people across the globe.

In his message, President Abdul Hamid said, “Pahela Baishakh teaches us to be generous and inspires us to unite with the world being inspired by nationalism.”

The president hoped that all the grief and sorrows of the past year will end and the Bengali New Year will bring happiness and prosperity.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, in her message, said the festival-loving Bengali nation had to celebrate Pahela Baishakh remaining confined to home in the last two years due to Covid pandemic. “We hope that this year the day will be celebrated again in a joyous atmosphere as before.”

“This year's Baishakh will be a great inspiration for us to fight against the evil forces of militancy, fundamentalism, extremism and build a society free from hunger and poverty,” she said.