The celebrations got underway with a group of children singing the national anthem in chorus at 4:30 pm
Bangladesh has begun the much anticipated 10-day nationwide celebrations to mark the birth centenary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the golden jubilee of the country’s independence.
President Abdul Hamid, his wife Rashida Khanam and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina joined the ceremony along with visiting Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and his spouse Fazna Ahmed at the National Parade Ground on Wednesday afternoon to launch the celebrations.
The celebrations were set off with a group of children singing the national anthem in chorus at 4:30 pm.
President Abdul Hamid was present as the chief guest while Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina presided over the event. Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih attended the program as the guest of honour.
Bangabandhu’s younger daughter Sheikh Rehana was also present to witness the proud moment.
In his speech, President Hamid urged politicians to take lessons from Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s ideals and devote themselves selflessly to serving the country, reports BSS.
“Take lessons from the ideals and works of Bangabandhu … and devote yourself to serving the country and its people,” he said at the function at the National Parade Square.
The president said contrary to examples set by the country’s founder, politics in Bangladesh now seemed to have taken a different course with some opportunists who seem to have taken politics as a “profession” in their narrow personal interests.
President Hamid said politics and profession were different things. Politics was an arena to work for the country’s welfare and profession was the means of earning a livelihood.
PM pays tribute
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also paid tribute to her father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman during her address at the event.
She said: "On this day in 1920, a child was born in a secluded village named Tungipara. The child, who came to this earth enlightening the lap of mother Sheikh Saira Khatun and father Sheikh Lutfur Rahman, illuminated the life of the Bangali community and brought it freedom."
The prime minister also extended her sincere gratitude to all friendly countries and leaders who helped during the great Liberation War, the struggle for freedom, and the post-war reconstruction of the country.
The guests – President Hamid, Maldives President Solih, Prime Minister Hasina and Sheikh Rehana – were honoured through being provided with mementos at the event.
Foreign dignitaries’ greetings
Chinese President Xi Jinping, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and reputed British journalist Mark Tully sent congratulatory video messages to mark the occasion.
President Xi said the principle of “friendship to all and malice towards none” Bangabandhu had laid out remained the bedrock of Bangladesh’s foreign policy, reports UNB.
“Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was an old and good friend of the Chinese people. On his two visits to China in 1952 and 1957, he forged friendships with Chairman Mao Zedong and Premier Zhou Enlai, and other Chinese leaders of the elder generation,” he said.
Placing high importance on China’s growing relations with Bangladesh, President Xi said: “We must always remember what the elder generation of leaders did for the growth of China-Bangladesh relations, and shall pass on the baton of the China-Bangladesh friendship to future generations.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said independent and democratic Bangladesh was built based on Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s love for his people.
Trudeau recalled his visit to Bangladesh when he was a child with his father, then prime minister of Canada Pierre Trudeau.
“That time my father and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had already forged a strong relationship – one that was rooted in Canada’s early support for an independent Bangladesh,” the Canadian prime minister said.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Bangladesh’s Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had made tremendous efforts to strengthen bilateral ties after the independence of Bangladesh.
During his speech, Suga reiterated Japan’s commitment to support Bangladesh in its development.
Speaking at the ceremony, Maldives President Solih emphasized that throughout his life, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had been a firm advocate of democracy and political liberty and that he advocated those ideals that resonated with people from all walks of life.
Despite the tragic circumstances of his death, President Solih noted that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman wouldl always have an honoured place in the hearts of those who yearned for democracy and freedom.
Presentation of video footage of Bangabandhu’s historic addresses and comments were displayed at the function where national-level singers along with young artistes sang the Mujib Year theme song titled “Tumi Banglar Dhrubo Tara Banglar Batighar”, penned by poet Kamal Chowdhury and composed by Nakib Khan.
National Professor Rafiqul Islam, chairman of the committee on the celebrations, delivered the welcome address at the program.
Nilphamari 2 MP Asaduzzaman Noor moderated the inaugural program.
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Jatiya Sangsad Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain, cabinet ministers, members of parliament, foreign diplomats and other dignitaries were present at the opening function.
Later, a cultural show, based on the theme, “Bhengechho Duar Esechho Jyotirmoy”, took place celebrating the life of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to cap off the momentous event.
The other programs at the inaugural session included performing songs with musical instruments, a video entitled “Looking back on Mujib’s centenary activities”, a special performance led by renowned Indian dancer Mamata Shankar.
The first day’s program drew to an end with the colourful cultural function and spectacular fireworks and laser shows.