Memos from Asia

Pohela Boishakh: The First Day Of Bengali New Year

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Bangladeshi people participate in a parade to celebrate the first day of the Bangla New Year or “Pahela Baisshakh”, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Friday, April 14, 2017.

If you ask me about the most efficient way to represent a nation to the world, I will always say it should be through their culture and festivals rather than the number of nuclear weapons they have.

Knowing about a nation’s culture and how it has evolved will help you understand their root.

Bangladesh, as a nation, is very hospitable. No matter which country you belong to, you’ll always be welcomed and greeted in a friendly manner.

Bangladeshi people attend a rally in celebration of the Bengali New Year or “Pohela Boishakh” in Dhaka, Bangladesh, April 14, 2016. The Bengali calendar or Bangla calendar is a traditional solar calendar and the year begins on Pohela Boishakh, which falls on April 14 in Bangladesh.

While many nations around the world are abandoning their culture to cope up with a brand new corporate culture, the people of Bangladesh managed to hold on to their roots.

Pohela Boishakh is such a festival that introduces you to the history of the nation. Bangla Noboborsho or Pohela Boishakh is the first day of Bengali Calendar and celebrated as the Bengali New year.

People from different religions and tribes participate in this festival throughout the country.

Tracing the Roots

Among the theories that state the origin of Pohela Boishakh, the most popular one is the one that coincides itself with the reign of the Mughal Empire.

During the realm of the Mughal empire Akbar, land taxes were collected following the Islamic Hijri calendar.

However, being a lunar calendar, it didn’t associate with the solar agricultural cycle. To get rid of the dissonance, Akbar made a new lunisolar calendar with the help of the royal astronomer, which was later introduced as Bengali Calendar.

Pohela Boishakh in Dhaka, Bangladesh, April 14, 2016.

From that time, the first day of the first month in Bengali Calendar was declared as Pohela Boishakh or Bangla Noboborsho. According to the Gregorian calendar, the festival of Pohela Boishakh takes place on the 14th of April every year.

The day of Celebration

Since the Pohela Boishakh is celebrated according to a lunisolar calendar, the celebration starts with the rise of a new sun in the morning.

People from all around Bangladesh also from some part of India starts the celebration with a rally called Mongol Shobhajatra.

UNESCO declared Mongol Shobhajatra as a cultural heritage of humanity. This rally mostly takes place in major cities.

Pohela Boishakh in Dhaka, Bangladesh, April 14, 2016.

If you’re going to participate in the celebration for the first time, I will suggest you attend the one that takes place in the country’s capital organized by the faculty of fine arts, University of Dhaka.

The Mongol Shobhajatra depicts a new theme every year.

Pigeon race, puppet shows, cultural events, and fairs take place on that day, throughout Bangladesh.

People consume a variety of traditional festive food on this day, especially Panta Bhat(Soaked Rice) and Ilish Mach Bhaji (Fried Hilsa Fish). Don’t forget to greet people with “Shubho Noboborsho,” which is the same as “Happy New Year.”

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