Pahela Baishakh, the first day of Bengali New Year has been a special attraction for me since my boyhood. Due to my father's involvement in government service back then, our family had opportunities to travel across the country because my father used to get transferred from one place to another almost every year.
In this way I have grown up through a very colorful and variegated childhood. My boyhood memories often move me when remembrances from bygone days flash across my mind. My mind always yearns for going back to those carefree, sweet, vibrant and joyous days though I know quite well that we cannot travel back to our past life anymore.
I passed significant portions of my childhood away from my hometown Moulvibazar which is a small district located inside Sylhet division. Places I visited across Bangladesh following my father's frequent transfer orders include a lot of districts like Chittagong, Comilla, Brahmanbaria, Chandpur, Rangamati, Bandarban, Jessore, Sylhet and some more locations.
A great deal of memorable events of my life took place in those districts which still make me feel emotional when I recall those incidents at leisure time. Celebrations of Pahela Baishakh are closely interlinked with some of those memories. Pahela Baishakh, during my tender age, used to jingle in my mind with an echo of delight, delicious foods, multicolored dresses, illustrated cane-made utensils, new clothes, illusive songs, fairs and so on.
Visiting fairs on Pahela Baishakh was a very joyful thing for me. As I was a small boy during those days, I used to visit Baishakhi fairs with my dad. I clearly remember the incomparable pleasure and illusion those fairs cast on me. My anticipation for going to Baishakhi fairs began pampering my thoughts three or four days earlier as if I was having a dream that would come true inevitably.
While recalling memories about Baishakhi fairs, first of all I would like to glance back at my fabulous reminiscences at the Baishakhi fair of Nabinagar upazila under Brahmanbaria district. I don't know for sure whether that fair is still organized in that place. However, during those days, around two decades back while my father was stationed there for professional work that fair was a spectacular event marking the grand occasion of Pahela Baishakh
. Toys, clothes, sweetmeat, hot and spicy foods, musical instruments, even furniture and cattle were also sold in that fair. Traders of different products used to bring their stuff from faraway places to sell these things to visitors in the fair. My most preferable items were various sorts of sweet foods which my father used to buy for me and my younger sisters. I bought several toys as well. Moreover, I purchased footballs, badminton racquets and cricket bats from that fair. That fair used to run for five or six days. As a result the aura of Pahela Baishakh hung over people's mood even after the first date of Baishakh and it also enhanced people's amusement.
Television channels telecast special programs to observe Pahela Baishakh while newspapers and magazines publish rich supplements making references to the exclusivity of this day. On the other hand, celebrating Pahela Baishakh in big cities like Dhaka, Chittagong and Sylhet is much different. Baishakhi programs in these cities are celebrated by different cultural organizations as well as some offices, schools and universities who host parties for offering refreshment and cheering up their employees.
During last few years, the pleasantries enclosing Pahela Baishakh in large cities have been rather curtailed due to surveillance of law and order forces following some unfortunate occurrences that caused panic to people. Bombing on Ramna Batamul, attack on women a couple of years back during a Pahela Baishakh rally, Holey Artisan attack, advent of militant outfits, rise of fanatic communal groups have broadly affected the festivities general people used to enjoy on Pahela Baishakh.
Law and order forces have recently busted militant hideouts in a number of districts across the country. Several militants have been killed in shootouts with police force. Some officers from law and order forces also have embraced martyrdom while raiding militant dens.
These actions by the law enforcement agencies are very important to uproot militancy. At the same time these incidents have also more or less scared people. For this reason, it would not be unnatural if some people don't go out of home this time to join processions or musical concerts on Pahela Baishakh. Now it has become a vital job for the government to restore the sense of security in people's minds so that they can have fun on Pahela Baishakh without trepidations.
Pahela Baishakh symbolizes the originality of Bengali culture, heritage and the core values we uphold. The colors of Bengali new year that get exposed through the celebration of Pahela Baishakh boost our spirit and remind us of our roots. The Bengali songs we hear on this day, the Bengali dishes we eat and serve, the dresses we put on, the thoughts we cherish and the dreams we love to retain are all intimately bonded with the sunlight, flowers, wind, fragrance and birds' tweets Pahela Baishakh brings for us.
Let us embolden our hearts on this Pahela Baishakh with pledges to combat all the diabolic powers from our country to restore peace and placidity. At the same time, we should initiate integrated efforts to make people feel safe and hearty to spread cheers and exhilarations among all countrymen.
Pahela Baishakh is an auspicious time for us to rejuvenate our patriotic spirit to embrace our nationhood once again with reconsolidated love. On the momentous occasion of Pahela Baishakh, we need to further hone our devotion to our motherland, its traditions, language and culture.
The writer is a literary critic for The Asian Age
Leave Your Comments