Pohela Boishakh has long been contested on the cultural grounds for Bengali people. For most Bangladeshi, it is a cherished celebration of authentic Bengali culture. With a visit to the traditions and adding the flavor of our heritage, Bengali people look forward to the New Year eagerly. People from all ages, socio- economic groups, races and religions celebrate this holiday.
In the last few decades, the trend of radicalization and commercial malware has created some animosity towards the celebration of Bengali culture, which has potentially tainted our age old heritage. The most recent hot topic of discussion is, whether eating Hilsha on this occasion is a part of our tradition or not. Team Intellect presents various reactions of professional youths on the celebration of the Bengali culture and traditions.
Sumaiya T Ahmed
Assistant Manager, Communication
Bangladesh Youth Leadership Center
I think that we must pay respect to our cultures and traditions. At the same time, we must acknowledge the fact that cultures and traditions have changed overtime and will evolve in the future. The “mongol shobhajatra” for example has been a part of Pohela Baishakh ever since I can remember. This is one part of the celebrations that I truly enjoy a lot. However it might not be the same for the older generation. I feel that with evolution, the way of celebrations may change but that does not mean that the young generation is disregarding or losing touch with the Pohela Baishakh heritage. At the heart of it all, we must be empathetic and tolerant towards opinions that we do not necessarily agree with.
Md. Risul Karim
Software Engineer (Video Game Production)
My views of being a Bangladeshi focus largely on being festive, loving and respective of our culture and being open minded. I think our country’s culture is not established solely based on following a certain religion, rather it is a mixed culture with a value of its own. The celebrations of “Pohela Boishakh” is the greatest gifts we got from our ancestors. It lets us rekindle the touch with our heritage and brings happiness, family time and joy at least for one day in our dull life. It is indeed unfortunate that some unexpected incidents took place in previous years , however it is even more unfortunate that pulling that reference, people are being obnoxious to the biggest celebration of the year of the Bengali lifestyle. Although we do need to ensure security and order, but I believe that it should not be done by banning or criticizing our culture by any means.
News Presenter, RTV
The celebration of “Pohela Boishakkh” embodies all the gracious signs and symbols of being Bengali. Although the customs have been celebrated respectfully since the longest time, at present many unpleasant occurrences and chaos have generated controversies regarding this special day of Bengali people. I believe that tradition carries a nation’s pride and practices; it should never be exploited with malafide intention. For example, if the market syndicate’s plot against the actual purchasing price of the Hilsa fish, it will be wise move to boycott the purchase of Hilsa during these days. In all honestly, I believe food and cultural elements do not represent a nation.
Khan Mohammad Rezaul Alam
Assistant Manager, The Westin Dhaka
Having Panta-Illish on Pohela Boishakh is our tradition as Bangali. We can definitely have panta without Hilsha. As Boishak month is the gestation period for Hilsha fish. We need to refrain from fishing Hilsha fish at this time, so that we can ensure a smooth supply of it for the rest of the year. We can enjoy our “panta” meal with all sorts of bhorta, bhaji and other delicacies. Mongal Shova Jatra was never part of the original tradition. As muslim Bengalis, instead of participating in the Mongal Shova Jatra, we can celebrate Pohela Boishakh by having fun indoors or outdoors with family and friends.
Pohela Baishakh, is one of the pioneering celebrations, which has united our diversified cultural entities under a single umbrella as a unified nation. Moreover, the elements of the celebration especially “panta bhaat” and Hilsha fish, have together implicate the oldest professions of the country - farming and fishing, which are significant profession in the agro-based Shonar Bangla. Other prominent feature of the celebration has included Mongol Shova Jatra, which takes a pledge to march together to demolish a present crisis and evil spirit. Besides abstract benefits, if we evaluate the economical turnover of the celebration, it is beneficial for the small entrepreneurs. Centering the Baishakh celebration, apparels and fashion house owners bulk of which are women, have successfully realized more than 30 percent of their annual turn- over. Our traditional professions, such as potters and snake charmer, traditional pitha (rice cake) makers and sellers, maize sellers have also benefited from selling their products.
Legal Associate, Bangladesh Copyright and IP Forum
With the trend of young Bengalis being massively influenced by cultures of the world, the notion of “being” truly “Bangali” at least on the first day of the Bengali New Year is great! Although I believe that the attributes of Bengali culture will lay forgotten the very next day, but the enthusiasm of celebrating the New Year at home and abroad is very encouraging. Besides these, I believe one of the most positive effect of these celebrations, is bringing the small entrepreneurs or the unrepresented industries into limelight. The dala- kula, batasha and khoi makers and sellers, paper mache masks, pakhas, clay pottery,etc. business thrives for facilitating celebrations the day. There will always be unanticipated mishaps and controversies regarding elements of the traditional celebrations, however I chose to focus on the bright side of the festivities of being “Bangali” for a day!