Pahela Boishakh is one of the most colourful festivals through which the Bangalis bid farewell to the old year and welcome the New Year.
People from all walks of life wear traditional Bengali dresses celebrating the occasion.
Young women wear white sarees with red borders and adorn themselves with bangles, flowers and tips, while men wear white pyjamas and kurta.
The government has drawn up an elaborate programme. The traditional Mongol Shobhajatra (a traditional parade) will be brought out at divisional, district and upazila levels to reach the traditional programme to the grassroots as it has earned the international recognition.
However, business communities, especially in the rural areas, are ready to open their traditional ‘Halkhata’, new account books. On the day traders also offer sweets to customers.
President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina issued separate messages greeting the countrymen on the occasion of Pahela Baishakh.
They wished peace, happiness and prosperity of the people and the country in the New Year.
The president, in his message, said Bangla Nababarsha is an inseparable part of Bangali culture. This is a universal and non-communal festival, Hamid added.
In her message, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said the nation starts the first day of Bengali New Year with the hope of progress of life forgetting all shortcomings and sorrows.
Besides, Jatiya Party chairman and opposition leader in the house HM Ershad also issued a message greeting the people of the country on the eve of the occasion. He wished that the Bengali New Year 1426 would bring happiness, prosperous and smooth pace of development.
Different government and non-government organisations, socio-cultural platforms, including Bangladesh Shilpokala Academy, Bangladesh Shishu Academy, Bangla Academy, Department of Public Libraries, the National Museum, Kabi Nazrul Institute, Copyright Office, National Book Centre, Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC), Dhaka University, Jatiya Press Club and Dhaka Reporters Unity, have chalked out various programmes to observe the Pahela Baishakh.
The programmes of the day began in the city with the musical soiree of Chhayanat, a leading cultural organisation of the country at Ramna Batamul at dawn.
Mongol Shobhajatra was brought out from Dhaka University (DU) fine arts faculty premises at 0900 hrs.
Bangladesh Television, Bangladesh Betar and private television channels aired the programmes live.
The city people started the day with the traditional breakfast of ‘panta bhat’ (soaked rice), green chilly, onion and fried fish at Ramna Park, Suhrawardy Uddyan, Dhaka University campus, Rabindra Sarobor at Dhanmondi and other amusement places.
Important buildings and establishments as well as city streets and islands have been illuminated with colourful lights and graffiti painted in the walls signifying the arts, culture and heritage of the country.
A Baishakhi Mela will begin at Bangla Academy on the occasion of Pahela Baishakh.
On the occasion, all museum and archaeological sites will remain open for all while children, students, people with disabilities and autistics will be allowed to visit the museum at free of cost.
Improved traditional food will be distributed among jail inmates, patients in hospitals and orphanages on the occasion.
Bangladesh missions abroad will also organise different programmes to welcome the New Year. The day is a public holiday.
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 Bengal 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). (UNI)