Holidays in Bangladesh
Bengali family posing at festival

A close look at Bengali New Year

While our New Year is coming up, on the Bengali calendar it’s not until April. Nonetheless, Tazrian told us all about it in addition to many different holidays in her country. Here she explains Pahela Baishakh…

Festivals and celebrations are an integral part of the culture of Bangladesh. It is said in a popular proverb in our country that ‘baro mashe tero parbon’ (Bengalis have thirteen festivals in twelve months). An abundance of festivities take place in our country. Indeed, what the proverb says is not any different from what is in practice here.

Pahela Baishakh is the first day of the Bengali calendar. It is usually celebrated on April 14th. Pahela Baishakh marks the first day of the crop season. Usually, on this day, people wake up early in the morning and dress in red and white clothes. Men wear red and white 'punjabi'; women wear red and white ‘shari' and adorn their hair with jasmine and marigold flowers. They spend much of the day visiting relatives, friends, and neighbors and going to the fair.

Fairs are arranged in many parts of the country where various agricultural products, traditional handicrafts, toys, cosmetics, as well as various kinds of food and sweets are sold. Naturally, all gatherings and fairs consist of a vast spread of Bengali food and sweets.

The fairs also provide entertainment, with singers, dancers, and traditional plays and songs. There is a traditional hand-driven ride at the fairs called 'nagordola', which is one of the main attractions of the fairs. Horse races, bull races, bullfights, cockfights, flying pigeons, and boat racing were once popular.

The most colorful New Year's Day festival takes place in Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh. Welcoming the New Year also takes place at the Institute of Fine Arts, University of Dhaka. Students and teachers of the institute use a colorful procession called 'Mangal Shobhajatra' and parade around the campus. Social and cultural organizations celebrate the day with cultural programs.

–Tazrian (YES, Bangladesh), Virtual Program