Medical &Health

Pahela Baishakh: After two years lost to Covid, familiar celebrations awaited at DU

After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, Dhaka University is all set to welcome the Bengali New Year 1429 with the vibrancy and festivity usually associated with Pahela Baishakh on April 14 (Thursday).

Regarded as the educational and socio-cultural hub of the country, Dhaka University and its Faculty of Fine Arts (FFA), better known as Charukala, are preparing to observe this year’s Pahela Baishakh for the last couple of weeks.

As this year’s Pahela Baishakh is knocking on the door to be celebrated with great enthusiasm after an unfortunate two-year break with restrictions on public gatherings and celebrations of public programmes in 2020 and 2021, this year the DU authority alongside its teachers and students has geared up to welcome the return of the festivities in the campus arena.

Traditionally, every year Dhaka University celebrates this national function with festive traits by arranging different sorts of functions including the colourful procession called the “Mangal Shobhajatra” (March of Good Tidings). The flagship procession was inscribed on UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2016.

After visiting the Zainul Gallery of the university’s Fine Arts faculty, it was seen firsthand by UNB that students are busy preparing the equipment for the procession including banners, festoons, festive masquerades and gigantic replicas of birds, fish, animals such as lions, tigers, owls and more.

The students of the 22nd and 23rd batch of the Fine arts faculty of Dhaka University are in charge of hosting this year’s Pahela Baishakh celebration.

DU and Charukala authority have announced that festive masks and bags cannot be carried on campus during the day of Pahela Baishakh. However, masks that are being prepared by Charukala can be collected and carried.

Shifat Tasnim, a 4th-year student in the department of drawing and Painting was designing handcrafts on Tuesday at Charukala. “Every year we along with our teachers design and paint handcrafts of fish, animals and birds, festive masks and paintings, in order to sell those to the netizens during the celebration of the Bangla new year,” she told UNB.

Explaining why they make specific types of handcrafts, she said, “Birds are the symbol of peace and other crafts are also highly related to our culture and heritage.”

Torikul Islam Hirok, a 22nd batch student in the Drawing and Painting department said, “We are progressing very well but the works are yet to be finished. We mainly celebrate the new year with two programmes the “Mangal Shobhajatra” rally on April 14th and the “Chaitra Sankranti” the day before. This year, we are again preparing to arrange both functions after so long.”

On April 13, DU Vice-Chancellor Dr Md Akhtaruzzaman will inaugurate a special exhibition at Charukala premises at 4 pm. The exhibition will feature the designed posters made for the “Mangal Shobhajatra 1429” at a recent poster designing workshop as part of the preparations.

According to the DU authority, this year’s “Mangal Shobhajatra” will start from the university’s Teacher-Student Centre (TSC) premises at 9 am. The procession will be brought out from the Sarak Deep area of the TSC, as the road in front of the FFA has been narrowed due to the ongoing construction work of Metro Rail.

After parading the ‘Memory Eternal’ monument premises of the university, the Shobhajatra will end at the TSC premises on the campus. The festivity must be concluded within 5 pm and public entrance would be restricted to the campus area after that, which was authorized at a recent meeting called by the DU authority.

Regarding the overall preparation of the function, the dean of fine Arts faculty professor Nisar Hossain said, “In the past two years, COVID-19 has taken lots of things and normalities from our regular life. I hope the upcoming new year will bring back fortune and be free of harm.”

“We are ready to observe the national function and eagerly waiting for April 14. The preparations are nearing the end and we will be able to complete the preparation before April 14,” he added.

With regard to the celebrations, as the date this year has fallen in the holy month of Ramadan, the Dhaka University authority has decided to provide Iftar and Sehri to the residential students of the University.