Friday, April 13, 2012

DHAKA, Bangladesh | ঢাকা, বাংলাদেশ

In Dhaka, large numbers of people pour out of their houses and gather early in the morning under the banyan tree at Ramna Park [রমনা বটমুল]. Along with the rising sun, the Chhayanat [ছায়ানট] artists sing the famous song of Tagore in chorus, “এসো, হে বৈশাখ, এসো এসো” Esho, he Boishakh, Esho Esho (Come, O Boishakh, Come, Come), welcoming Boishakh.

Dhaka’s Poyela Boishakh celebration is incomplete without the “Mangal Shobhajatra”. Students and teachers of the Dhaka University’s Institute of Fine Arts (ঢাকা বিশ্ববিদ্যালয়ের চারুকলা ইনস্টিটিউট) take out a colorful procession (known as “Mangal Shobhajatra”) and parade on different streets and finally returns to the Fine arts Institute. This procession mainly consists of Arts & crafts like (cutouts of tigers, owls, dragon-fly etc. and different types of masks) these colorful pieces of art display the elements of Bengali culture and resemble lifestyle of rural and modern Bengal. People of all ages and irrespective of class and profession take part in this procession. Since 1989 this Procession (Shobhajatra) has become an important event and also a major tourist attraction.Apart from these, various cultural programs are organized by social and cultural organizations all over Dhaka. Newspapers and magazines bring out special supplements. Targeting the Poyela Boishakh event, various movies, music albums, books etc. are released and special programs are also telecasted on television and radio.

Many old festivals connected with New Year's Day have disappeared, while new festivals have been added. With the abolition of the zamindari system, the punya connected with the closing of land revenue accounts has disappeared. Kite flying in Dhaka and bull racing in Munshiganj used to be very colourful events. Other popular village games and sports were horse races, bullfights, cockfights, flying pigeons, and boat racing. Some festivals, however, continue to be observed; for example, bali (wrestling) in Chittagong and gambhira in Rajshahi are still popular events.

Pohela Boishakh celebration has also hit the dancefloor of the pubs and clubs in the major cities, as an increasing number of parties are being organized nowadays for the youth. Thus, giving the celebration a western touch but keeping the indigenous feel intact.
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