Falgun/Valentine’s: When spring was in the air, and love came second

Although the ongoing global pandemic made all events around the world adopt at least the ‘new normal’ methods, the festivities in the capital marking Pahela Falgun 1427 and Valentine’s Day 2021 on Sunday were observed vividly in Dhaka by the cultural organizations and institutions with enthralling programmes.

Different socio-cultural organizations arranged several staged and virtual events throughout the day, though the constant and usual essence of the traditional Amar Ekushey Book Fair was absent as the book fair was shifted into March 18 this year.

Still, netizens from all walks of life joined the cultural events and celebrated the first day of Spring wearing yellow and red sarees, panjabis and a new addition to the fashion this year – masks, to protect themselves from COVID-19 while they attended the events with their beloveds.

The day began with Jatiya Basanta Utshab Udjapon Parishad’s traditional ‘Basanta Utshob 1427’ at Sohrawardi Uddyan open stage in the capital from 7 am to 10 am and 3:30 pm to 7 pm, following heath guidelines. The organisation has been regularly arranging the event at Bakultala of fine arts faculty of Dhaka University since 1991, but this year, the Dhaka University authority did not permit the organizers to use the venue for the event, ostensibly due to the pandemic situation.

Dhaka DocLab chairman and eminent cultural activist Nasiruddin Yousuff inaugurated the festival, while Jatiya Basanta Utsab Udjapan Parishad general secretary Manzarul Islam Chowdhury Sweet presented the welcome speech.

“Spring has always been the most festive season in our country, and this event is a jovial celebration to welcome the season and the first day of Falgun. For the last 27 years, Jatiya Basanta Utsab Udjapan Parishad has been organising the event which also got the late veteran actor Aly Zaker as an initiator. He will always be remembered through festivities like these, and I thank the organizers for arranging the event successfully, overcoming the odds,” Nasiruddin Yousuff said at the event.

Dipen Sarkar presented Chaturanga, accompanied by Zakir Hossain on tabla, followed by a presentation by the artistes of Sur Saptak performing chorus songs. Nusrat Binte Noor, Nabanita Zahid Chowdhury and others also performed several songs at the event.

Dance artistes of Bangladesh Academy of Fine Arts (BAFA) Swapnabikash, Nrityaksha, and Mudra Classical Dance presented dance recitals with several songs.

Besides, Jatiya Basanta Utsab Udjapan Parishad also held programmes at Simanta-Sahara Mancha at Gendaria and Uttara Mancha at Azampur Government Primary School in the afternoon till night.

Marking the festive day, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy (BSA) also arranged a gala programme titled ‘Basanta Utsab 2021’ at its Nandan Mancha in the afternoon.

State Minister for Cultural Affairs KM Khalid joined the event as the chief guest, while the event was presided over by BSA director general Liaquat Ali Lucky. Cultural Affairs ministry secretary Md Badrul Arefin also joined the event as the special guest.

The cultural event featured dance recitals, poetry, and band show with esteemed artists of the country, enthralling the audiences.

Tamanna Rahman, Anik Bose, Warda Rihab and child artists of Bangladesh World Performing Arts presented dance recitals, while artistes from Dhaka University, Jagannath University, Government Music College, and BSA performed group songs.

Sabbir, Diti Sarkar, Apu Aman and Beauty rendered solo songs and Ibrar Tipu-Kona, Khairul Anam Shakil-Kolpona Anam presented duet song performances at the programme, followed by the performance of popular band Spandan.

Thespian couple Shahiduzzaman Selim-Rosy Siddiqui and Ananta Hira-Nuna Afroze recited from plays at the event.

The ongoing international photography biennale festival Chobi Mela Shunno also catered to a large number of visitors Sunday, mostly the festive crowd of Falgun. The international festival also celebrated its ‘Pathshala Day’ on the day along with its wide range of attractive programs following a hybrid format at the Drikpath Bhaban, Panthapath in the capital.

To mark the day and celebrate the spirit of Spring, EMK Center and Department of Dance, University of Dhaka has been organizing Basanta Uthsab since 2016, however, this year, due to the pandemic and social safety measures, the celebration was organized at Midas Center of the capital’s Dhanmondi and was telecast virtually over the Facebook page and YouTube channel of EMK Center.

Many educational institutions including North South University (NSU) through its NSUSS (North-South University Shangskritik Shangathan) organized live cultural programmes, webinars and comedy debates at the Facebook pages of NSU and NSUSS, instead of its traditional Spring festival on the campus.

Besides, several television channels and YouTube channels, radio stations and organizations at their Facebook pages hosted a wide range of cultural events throughout the day.