Today is Pahela Baishakh, the first day of the Bangla new year. People could not celebrate the Bangla New Year with festivity due to the corona infection in the last two years. The colourful rally, Mangal Shobhajatra, could not be brought out. With the decrease in corona prevalence, various programmes have been taken up at the government and private levels to welcome the New Year with vibrancy this year. On the occasion of Bangla New Year, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina addressed the nation last evening.
After two years, the Nababarsha celebrations have been organised at Ramna with traditional music. This year’s motto is 'Wake with new joy' which means we will get rid of the grime, grief and decay of the past and move towards a happy life. The Faculty of Fine Arts of Dhaka University is also organising 'Mangal Shobhajatra' and cultural programmes on a limited scale. Not only Dhaka, the whole country is ready to welcome the New Year.
The Bangla New Year was introduced during the reign of Emperor Akbar to facilitate the collection of rent. From then onwards, the merchants used to settle accounts for the whole year and observe Halakhata (Day to collect the credits). Although this trend has been going on for hundreds of years, businesses have come to a standstill in the last two years due to Covid. Hopefully, the economy has recovered a lot this year due to the reduction in Covid infections. The holy Eid-ul-Fitr of the Muslim community will be taking place two weeks after the New Year. As a result, the business will be boosted further.
Meanwhile, the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) has issued a warning citing several neighbouring countries. They said this time around, militants could be active in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan during the Baishakh. This message worries us. Because, the militant groups not only want to foil celebrations of New Year, but also are desperate to erase the identity of Bangalis.
Militants killed 9 people in a bomb attack on the New Year celebrations at Ramna Batamul in 2001. Apart from this, this evil force has conducted many more incidents of sabotage including the bomb attack at Udichi conference in Jashore . We hope that our law enforcement agencies have the capability to prevent any assault and sabotage by the militants.
After receiving the warning, they have beefed up security for the Bengali New Year celebrations everywhere including Ramna. We welcome their initiative. Restrictions are necessary for security. However, the level of restrictions should not be such that the joy of the festival turns into harassment and people are forced to stay indoors.
Bangla New Year is a widespread festival of Bangalis. People of all classes and professions irrespective of religion, caste and creed take part in it. It is an integral part of our history and tradition. Bangla New Year also has a bright role in the struggle to establish the identity of Bangalis.
During the Pakistan period, the celebration of Bangla New Year was obstructed in various ways. Now Baishakh is being celebrated nationally. Not just formality, we must internalise this in our thinking, contemplations and daily life. Welcome 1429.