Friday, April 13, 2012

History of Pohela Boishakh | পহেলা বৈশাখের ইতিহাস

Pohela Boishakh celebration dates back to Mughal Emperor Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar’s [জালাল উদ্দিন মোহাম্মদ আকবর] reign. Akbar the Great, the renowned grandson of Zahiruddin Muhammad Babar [জহিরুদ্দিন মুহম্মদ বাবর] was the 3rd Mughal Emperor. In order to ease tax collection, Akbar-e-Azam changed the tradition of agricultural tax collection according to Hijri calendar [হিজরী সন] and ordered a reform of the calendar because the Hijri calendar, being a lunar calendar- did not coincide with the harvest sessions and thus the farmers faced severe difficulties in paying taxes out of season.

The Royal Astrologer of Emperor Akbar's court, Aamir Fatehullah Siraji [আমির ফাতেউল্লাহ সিরাজী], was the one who actually devised this calendar, after performing a research on the lunar Hijri and Solar calendar[সৌর সন]. The unique characteristic of the Bengali year was that, rather than being a lunar calendar, it was based on an amalgamation of the solar and lunar year. This was indeed a great development, as the solar and lunar years were formulated in very different methods.

Initially this calendar was named as “Fasli San” [ফসলি সন] (agricultural year) and then Bônggabdo [বঙ্গাব্দ] or Bangla Year was introduced on 10/11 March 1584, but was dated from 5th November 1556 or 963 Hijri. This was the day that Akbar defeated Himu in the second Battle of Panipat to ascend the throne. This not only glorified his victory but also streamlined revenue collection into an orderly process.

It was Akbar-e-Azam’s directive to settle all dues on the last day of Choitro. The next day was the first day of the New Year (Poyela Boishakh), the day for a new beginning; landlords would distribute sweets among their tenants, and Businessmen would open a “HalKhata” [হালখাতা] (new accounts book) and close their old ones. Businessmen used to invite their customers to share sweets and renew their business relationship with them. There were fairs and festivities allover and gradually Poyela Boishakh became a day of celebration.
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