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Pohela Boishakh, the first day of the Bengali calendar, the official calendar of Bangladesh, traces its roots back to the Mahifarash community during the Mughal rule and also the declaration of tax collection reforms of Akbar. Unlike many other festivals that are linked to folklore or religion, Pohela Boishakh is a festival that was dedicated to the Bengali people and the Bengal region.
Keep reading to learn more about Pohela Boishakh or the Bengali New Year 2023 in Bangladesh.
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Pohela Boishakh 2023 in Bangladesh date & holiday
Pohela Boishakh, which is the first day of the Bengali calendar and also the official calendar of Bangladesh, is celebrated every year on 14 April in Bangladesh as the Bengali New Year.
In addition, this day is observed as a public holiday in Bangladesh and is celebrated across religious boundaries by both its Muslim majority and Hindu minority populations.
Pohela Boishakh 2023 in Bangladesh history & significance
The history and significance of Pohela Boishakh have different versions. It traces its roots back to the Mughal rule in Bengal when land taxes were collected from Bengali people according to the Islamic Hijri calendar. To time the tax year to the harvest, the Bangla year was introduced, also known as Bangabda.
During the rule of Mughal Emperor Akbar, he asked the royal astronomer Fathullah Shirazi to create a new calendar by combining the lunar Islamic calendar and the solar Hindu calendar that was already in use. A harvest calendar known as Fasholi shan was introduced, which, according to some historians, started the Bengali calendar.
However, some historians believe that the Bengali calendar was introduced by the 7th-century Indian king Shashanka. Additionally, the term Bangabda was found in two Shiva temples that existed before the Akbar era, suggesting that the Bengali calendar existed before his time.
In 1966, a committee headed by Muhammad Shahidullah modified the old Bengali calendar, which was officially adopted by Bangladesh in 1987. Since then, the new year festival is celebrated on 14 April annually in Bangladesh. The festival has become a popular means of expressing cultural pride and heritage among the Bangladeshi people, particularly as they resisted Pakistani rule in the 1950s and 1960s.
How is Pohela Boishakh 2023 celebrated in Bangladesh?
Pohela Boishakh, or the Bengali New Year, is celebrated on 14 April every year in Bangladesh, observed as a public holiday, and celebrated across religious boundaries by its Muslim majority and Hindu minority. The traditional greeting for Bengalis in the new year is “Shubho Noboborsho,” which means “Happy New Year” in Bengali.
The day is marked with singing, processions, and fairs throughout the country. Traditionally, businesses start the day with a new roster, clearing out the old, and often inviting faithful customers and offering them sweetmeats. This celebration is known as Haal Khata.
In addition, there are performances, including singers performing traditional songs and classical Jatra plays. People in Bangladesh also observe the new year by wearing festive white-red color combination dresses, and women decorate their hair with flowers.
During Pohela Boishakh, Bangladeshis cook and consume various traditional festival meals, including ilish bhaji (fried hilsa fish), panta bhat (watered rice), and several other special bhartas (pastes).
The capital city of Bangladesh, Dhaka, begins its celebration of Pohela Boishakh at dawn with a performance of Rabindranath Tagore’s song “Esho he Boishakh” by Chhayanaut under the banyan tree at Ramna (the Ramna Batamul). The Mangal Shobhajatra, a traditional, colourful parade organised by students from the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Dhaka (Charukala), is an essential part of the celebrations.
A community organisation called Charupith reportedly began the fundamental stage of the Mangal Shobhjatra in Jessore in 1985. However, later in 1989, the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Dhaka, organised the Mangal Shobhajatra with various motifs and topics. The Mangal Shobhajatra is now commemorated by varied organisations across the nation.
Moreover, In 2016, UNESCO declared the Mangal Shobhajatra, organised by the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Dhaka, as a cultural heritage of humanity.
Additionally, other traditional events held to celebrate Pohela Boishakh in Bangladesh include bull racing in Munshiganj, Boli Khela (wrestling) in Chittagong, Nouka Baich (boat racing), cockfights, and pigeon racing.
Pohela Boishakh celebrations in Chittagong are similar to those in Dhaka. The students of the fine arts institute of Chittagong University carry out the Mangal Shobhajatra procession to the city, hosting daylong cultural activities.
In addition, different socio-cultural and educational organizations of Chittagong hold a variety of cultural programs at DC Hill & CRB. To observe the festival, the Shammilito Pohela Boishakh Udjapon Parishad holds a two-day function at the hill premises, starting with Rabindra Sangeet recitations in the morning.
The Chaitra Sangkranti program is held in the late afternoon and evening to bid farewell to the previous year.