Today is Pahela Boishakh, the first day of Bengali New Year. It is the biggest and most significant Bengali festival, which is celebrated with much fervor and enthusiasm by Bengalis all over the country. Culture, values, beliefs all together makes a system that affects the way we live in the society. It is an occasion when the nation celebrates the day in a festival manner regardless of race, color, ethnicity, age, and religion. On April 14 morning, people across the country bring out a procession with great fanfare to celebrate the Bengali New Year. The traditional greeting for Bengali New Year is “Shubho Naboborsho” meaning Happy New Year.
Bangla New Year or Pahela Boishakh is the oldest tradition of the Bengalis. By adopting the festivities, the motivation is to take a new one to remove the old and move forward. The culture of celebrating different festivals is strongly associated with the socio-economic system of the country. Festivals do not just spread happiness among people here, they contribute to boosting the economy in large scale.
The celebration of Pahela Boishakh became popular as the means of expressing the cultural pride and heritage of the nation during the time when people resisted the Pakistani oppression in the 1950s and 1960s. The tradition was embraced by the Bengalis as a means of protesting against the Pakistani rule, said Willem van Schendel and Henk Schulte Nordholt.
The culture of celebrating Pahela Boishakh has recently reached international recognition as the Mangal Shobhajatra, a rally brought out to celebrate the day, got inscribed on UNESCO’s Representatives List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2016. Mangal Shobhajatra is a procession in which people regardless of their identity join freely as part of greeting the Bengali New Year. The procession becomes colorful and exuberant with people lifting banners, replicas of birds, wearing artworks and masks, or any sort of crafts they have created on their own.
However, a disassociated fringe group in this country rejects the culture of Mangal Shobhajatra calling it a custom of the Hindu religion. Some even cross the line and dub Pahela Boishakh as Hindu culture. Moreover, the nation will never forget the carnage perpetrated at Ramna Batamul in 2001. A fundamentalist group called Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami was involved in the attack of the Pahela Baishakh celebration arranged by Chaayanot, a leading cultural organization of the country.
This year, when the nation is all set to celebrate its biggest festival, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said that programmes of the celebration must end by 6 pm and traditional masks cannot be used during Mongol Shovajatra .DMP Commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia said: “A special team will be deployed to counter sexual harassment, along with other extensive security measures to ensure foolproof safety at the Pahela Boishakh celebrations in Dhaka.
Bangla Insider wishes all Shuvo Nabobarsho (Happy New Year). May this day bring joy to the people of this country and the whole world.