Bengali New Year

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To Bengalis, the new year is a a new opening, a new anticipation, filled with delight, happiness and wealth. The day is celebrated with much pomp and fanfare. The Bengali New Year begins at dawn, and the day is marked with singing, processions, and fairs. Traditionally, businesses start this day with a new ledger, clearing out the old.

In Bangladesh it is a National holiday. Fairs and festivals are held all over the country, where singers sing traditional songs welcoming the new year. Food vendors sell traditional foods and artisans sell traditional handicrafts. There will be entertainment such as the staging of traditional jatra plays. There will folk singing and traditional puppet plays.

In rural Bangladesh, the home will be thoroughly cleaned and people will be dressed in all their finery. Like other festivals of the region, the day is also marked by visiting relatives, friends and neighbors and special foods are prepared to entertain guests.

The rural festivities have now evolved to become huge events in the cities, especially the capital Dhaka.

In Dhaka and other large cities, the festivities begin with people gathering under a big tree or on the bank of a lake to witness the sunrise. Artists present songs to usher in the new year, particularly with Rabindranath Tagore’s well known song “এসো, হে বৈশাখ, এসো এসো Esho, he Boishakh” (Come, O Boishakh, Come, Come).

People from all walks of life wear traditional Bengali attire. Women will be dressed in traditional saris with their hair all bedecked in flowers. Men will be wearing traditional Panjabis. A huge part of the festivities in Dhaka is a colorful procession organized by the students and teachers of Institute of Fine Arts, University of Dhaka.