The nation on Tuesday (April 14) welcomed Bangla New Year 1416 with a renewed vow to establish an enlightened society free from hostilities, darkness, exploitation and all sorts of narrowness.
In the morning on the day, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina exchanged New Year’s greetings with the members of her cabinet, leaders and workers of the ruling Awami League and its associate bodies as well as a cross section of people at her official residence at Jamuna.
Many others also exchanged greetings of the Bangla New Year (Pahela Baishakh) with the premier at the same venue. The tiny tots presented a cultural show on the lawn of Jamuna which was also participated by Sheikh Hasina.
Pahela Baishakh, the Bangla New Year’s day, was heralded and welcomed in the city at Ramna Batamul at dawn by the reputable school of music Chhayanaut with the recital of traditional musical instruments. That was followed by rendering of solo and chorus songs of peace, love, affection and patriotism by nearly 200 students and teachers of the institute.
Tens of thousands of people from all walks of life attired in colourful and traditional Baishakhi dresses converged on Ramna Batamul in the sprawling Ramna Park from all the directions of the city to be present at the yearly commemorative function amid unprecedented security blanket spread over the entire area and its adjoining places since Monday night.
Recalling the sad memories of the militant attack at the venue in the year 2001 that left scores of people and connoisseurs of music killed, one of the founders of Chhayanaut and its principal Dr Sanjida Khatun, in her concluding remarks, observed that by reaching the lights of learning and with the enlightenment of society, the nation could avoid fanaticism, barbarity and all sorts of darkness.
The musical soirée was telecast live from the venue, which was the day’s main attraction in the capital.
In welcoming the New Year, the Institute of Fine Arts of Dhaka University brought out a colourful march from its campus in which hundreds of marchers took part carrying artistic folk objects. Many of them, particularly students, wore masks of animals, birds and fishes, while many others painted their chic with colours, which attracted the onlookers.
Dhaka City unit of the ruling Awami League took out a New Year’s Day march from Bahadur Shah Park in the old city. Senior member of Awami League presidium Abdur Razzak MP while formally inaugurating the march in the morning said, “We have to take a fresh vow to consolidate national unity on this auspicious day for building a happy, prosperous and developed Bangladesh free from hunger, poverty and war criminals.“
Carrying banners, placards and posters inscribed with the slogans of the ruling Awami League for changing the people’s lot for better days ahead, hundreds of marchers wearing head bands paraded Nawabpur Road and Syed Nazrul Islam Sarani (NorthSouth Road) and ended the procession at party central office at Bangabandhu Avenue. Some tastefully decorated horsedriven carriages and push carts bearing Awami League’s poll symbol ‘boat’ also took part in the colourful march in which Awami League central leaders including Obaidul Quader MP, Abdul Mannan MP and Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya took part.
New Year’s cultural functions also were held at the road island in front of the Teachers Students Centre, Arts Faculty Building and Public Library of Dhaka University, Rabindra Sarobor amphitheatre at Dhanmondi, on the premises of Jatiya Press Club and Dhaka Reporters Unity, Lalmatia Government Girls High School, BSCIC Bhaban at Uttara, Waise Ghat in the old city and other places in the metropolis, which attracted hundreds of people throughout the day.
This year’s Pahela Baishakh celebrations, in fact, spread to almost all corners of the metropolis, marking a shift from the concentration in the past years on the greater Nilkhet area.
However, the entire Dhaka University area and its adjoining public places like Suhrawardy Udyan and Ramna Park were overcrowded with thousands of people clad in different Baishakhi dresses and soon the area turned into a human sea.
On the occasion, Baishakhi fairs also were organised at many places in the city including Bangla Academy, Shishu Academy and Dhanmondi Playground, where items of handicrafts, sweetmeats and other products were on display.
Other social and cultural and institutions also welcomed Pahela Baishakh with programmes like musical soirees, poetry recitation sessions, discussions, staging street dramas, screening of films and classical music recitals.
The organisations included Sammilito Sangskritik Jote, Rishij Shilpi Goshthi, Dhanmondi Recreation Club, Surer Dhara, Bulbul Lalitkala Academy, Bangla Department of Dhaka University etc.
The thoroughfare between Foreign Office and Shahbagh Intersection was decorated with festoons inscribed with the New Year’s greetings.
The day was a public holiday. National dailies published special supplements while Bangladesh Betar, Bangladesh Television and private radio and television channels aired special programmes highlighting the significance of the day.
Businessmen opened new account books (Hal Khata) and distributed sweetmeats among their customers and admirers on the occasion.
Meanwhile, hundreds of people converged on the DC Hill in the port city of Chittagong and at Edward College ground in Pabna to take part in the cultural functions of different groups organised on the occasion of the Bangla New Year.
On the other hand, police arrested 82 pickpockets along with 36 stolen mobilephone sets during the Bengali New Year celebrations on Tuesday. Of the cellphone sets, 26 were returned to respective owners.
Besides, 37 children who went missing during the Pahela Baishakh celebrations were rescued by patrols and later 36 of them were handed over to their guardians while one disabled child remained under police custody.