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A different kind of Pohela Boishakh celebration

  • Published at 01:01 am April 15th, 2020
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The government issued directives to celebrate the festival digitally and reiterated that public gatherings should be avoided Photo: Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

Law minister hopes for coronavirus-free Pohela Boishakh next year

Bangladeshis across the country celebrated Pohela Boishakh, the first day of Bangla New Year, in a different way this time due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Virtual media and digital devices played a major role in the festivities, as the majority of the population was forced to stay home. All the usual programs were cancelled because of the Covid-19 outbreak that has already claimed 46 lives in Bangladesh and over 121,000 across the globe.

The government issued directives to celebrate the festival digitally and reiterated that public gatherings should be avoided.

State-run Bangladesh Television (BTV) broadcast a special program with content from Chhayanaut that was shown last year, BTV sources said as quoted by BSS.

Furthermore, previously recorded traditional songs and dance performances of leading artistes were played.

A recorded message from Chhayanaut President Sanjida Khatun was also aired.

A 58-minute program by the Cultural Affairs Ministry was aired from 8:30am on Bangladesh Television and then on all private TV channels.

Bangalis welcomed the Bangla New Year by preparing traditional food items at their respective homes, and then shared them with friends through pictures on social media instead of in person

Ministers, politicians, cultural and social personalities and celebrities also greeted people on the occasion of Pohela Boishakh on social media.

On this special occasion, people from all walks of life generally wear traditional Bangali dresses. Young women wear white saris with red borders and adorn themselves with bangles, flowers, and tips, while men wear white pyjamas and panjabi or kurta. There was no such dressing up this time, though some shared photos of their outfits from previous years.

The traditional Mongol Shobhajatra was not brought out this year from Fine Arts Faculty on the Dhaka University, being among the many programs the authorities were forced to cancel.

The business community, especially in the rural areas, generally opens their traditional “Halkhata,” new account books on that day, while traders usually offer sweets to customers.

President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina gave separate messages greeting the countrymen on the occasion of Pohela Boishakh on Tuesday.

They urged everyone to celebrate the Bangla New Year digitally and to stay at homes to avoid public gatherings.

They wished peace, happiness and prosperity to the people and the country in the New Year.

The government also cancelled leading cultural institution Chhayanat’s musical soiree at Ramna Batamul at dawn.

Improved food items were served to jail inmates, patients in hospitals and orphanages on the occasion.

The day was a public holiday.

Different national dailies published special colorful supplements highlighting the significance of Pohela Boishakh.

Some historians attribute the Bengali calendar to the 7th century king Shashanka, which was later modified by Mughal emperor Akbar for the purpose of tax collection.

During the Mughal rule, land taxes were collected from the Bengali people according to the Islamic Hijri calendar. This calendar was a lunar calendar, and its new year did not coincide with the solar agricultural cycles.

Akbar asked the royal astronomer Fathullah Shirazi to create a new calendar by combining the lunar Islamic calendar and solar Hindu calendar already in use, and this was known as Fasholi shan (harvest calendar).