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Tuesday, April 14, 2015, Baishakh 1, 1422 BS, Jamadius Sani 23, 1436 Hijr

'Shuvechchha Nababarsher' Happy Bengali New Year
Published : Tuesday, 14 April, 2015,  Time : 12:00 AM,  View Count : 55

Today is Pahela Baishakh the first day of the Bengali New Year and we have, from the dawn of this day, stepped to the year 1422. On this day we wish all Bangladeshis and all people of all nationalities and faiths a happy Bengali New Year. Bengali Nobel laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore welcomed the year saying 'Eso he Baishakh' meaning step in Baishakh and then he said 'taposh nishwas baye mumurshure dao urae' meaning by your heated strong wind blow up the moribund. In Dhaka at the dawn 'Chhayanot' artists will begin the day's programme under the Ramna Banyan tree by singing Tagore's 'Eso he Baishakh'. The atmosphere around the banyan tree then is serene with men and women clad in new punjabis and s.
Like all other new years Bengali new year has a variegated history. It is rooted in the time of Shashanka the king of Gauda, then it was a solar based Vedic year. For Bengal and North-East India that was not a good guide for sowing and harvesting and the Mughal collection of tax as per Hijri year was incompatible with the harvesting time that caused inconvenience to farmers. Due to practical difficulties need for re-scheduling of the year was felt strongly and that successively ushered the now prevailing year.
The year begins in mid-April of the Gregorian calendar which is the outset of some other regional years of India such as Assam, Kerala, Orissa and Tamil Nadu. And it has proximity of years even outside of the Sub-continent such as Burma, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Cambodia. This is because of climatic and environmental nearness, social customs, economic pattern and food habit. These have contributed to the psychic similarity of the region as well, which have again direct or remote contribution to the formation of the regional forums like SAARC, ASEAN and BIMSTEC.
Incongruous Solar Shakabda (after the name of Shashanka) and tax collecting Lunar Hijri created anomaly. To strike a balance the best Emperor of the great Mughals Akbar asked the Darbar astrologer Fatehullah Siraji to develop a functionally convenient calendar for Bangla San. Fatehullah after research and scanning evolved a calendar with the blend of both Solar and Lunar years. That was a great leap forward and the blending is the distinctive characteristic of the Bangla San. Baishakh coincides with the Arabic month of Maharram---the Tarikh-e-Elahi of Hijri San and hence it was chosen as the first month of the year; earlier Chaitra was the first month following Shakabda principle.
Since then all dues has to be cleared by the end of Chaitra and the landlords used to distribute sweets to their tenants, businessmen opened Halkhata or new ledger book, fairs were organised, people wore new dress and good foods were cooked in households and societal exchange of pleasantries were abound and thus over time it emerged as a day of celebration.
A new chapter of the day was opened with the emergence of Bangladesh as an independent country through a war of liberation. Agriculture was the mainstay of life that revolved around villages and there were very few urban centres. So then New Year's festival was predominantly a rural matter. Over time towns and cities started taking interest in the matter and now like all other matters capital city Dhaka has become the laureate of Pahela Baishakh and the residents of the city and outskirt have lost themselves in joy and festivity.
Residents of the city, in hundreds and thousands, early in the morning men attired with immaculately designed punjabis and women in cotton sarees gather around Ramna Batamool or under the large and old banyan tree of Ramna to listen to Tagore songs, to eat Panta (watered rice) Ilish (Hilsa), to buy artefacts of rural artisans. One of the great aspects of the festival is to meet friends and people of society and exchange greetings and pleasantries. Teenage lovers get an opportunity to meet and spend time together which is otherwise not this easy to avail. In small towns and villages different but equally enthusiastic festivals are observed. This has already become the greatest festival as people of all faiths participate in it and it is an official holiday.

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
Published by the Editor on behalf of the Observer Ltd. from Globe Printers, 24/A, New Eskaton Road, Ramna, Dhaka. Editorial, News and Commercial Offices : Aziz Bhaban (2nd floor), 93, Motijheel C/A, Dhaka-1000. Phone :9586651-58. Fax: 9586659-60, Advertisemnet: 9513663, E-mail: [email protected], [email protected], [email protected].