Fairs and festivals have always played a significant role in the life of the citizens of this country. They derive from them a great amount of joy, entertainment and color for life. While most of the festivals have sprung from religious rituals, the fairs have their roots in the very heart of the people, irrespective of religion, caste or creed.
The advent of Bengali New Year is gaily observed throughout the country. The Day (mid-April) is a public holiday. Most colorful daylong gatherings along with arrangement of cultural program and traditional Panta at Ramna Park, Dhaka is a special feature of Pahela Baishakh. Tournaments, boat races etc. are held in cities and villages amidst great jubilation. Many fairs are held in Dhaka and other towns and villages.
March 26 is the day of Independence of Bangladesh. It is the biggest state festival. This day is most befittingly observed and the capital wears a festive look. It is a public holiday. The citizens of Dhaka wake up early in the morning with the booming of guns heralding the day. Citizens including government leaders and sociopolitical organizations and freedom fighters place floral wreaths at the National Martyrs Monument at Savar. Bangla Academy, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy and other socio-cultural organizations hold cultural functions. At night the main public buildings are tastefully illuminated to give the capital city a dazzling look. Similar functions are arranged in other parts of the country.
21 February is observed throughout the country to pay respect and homage to the sacred souls of the martyrs’ of Language Movement of 1952. Blood was shed on this day at the Central Shahid Minar (near Dhaka Medical College Hospital) area to establish Bangla as a state language of the then Pakistan. All subsequent movements including struggle for independence owe their origin to the historic language movement. The Shahid Minar (martyrs monument) is the symbol of sacrifice for Bangla, the mother tongue. The day is closed holiday. Mourning procedure begin in Dhaka at midnight with the song Amar vaier raktay rangano ekushay February (21st February, the day stained with my brothers’ blood). Nationals pay homage to the martyrs by placing flora wreaths at the Shahid Minar. Very recently the day has been declared World Mother Language Day by UNESCO.
Eid-e-Miladunnabi is the birth and death day of Prophet Muhammad (s). He was born and died the same day on 12th Rabiul Awal (Lunar Month). The day is national holiday, national flag is flown atop public and private houses and special food is served in orphanages, hospitals and jails. At night important public buildings are illuminated and milad mahfils are held.
The biggest Muslim festival observed throughout the world. This is held on the day following the Ramadan or the month of fasting. In Dhaka big congregations are held at the National Eidgah and many mosques.
Second biggest festival of the Muslims. It is held marking the Hajj in Mecca on the 10th Zilhaj, the lunar month. Eid congregations are held throughout the country. Animals are sacrificed in reminiscence of Hazrat Ibrahim’s (AM) preparedness for the supreme sacrifice of his beloved son to Allah. It is a public holiday.
Muharram procession is a ceremonial mournful procession of Muslim community. A large procession is brought out from the Hussaini Dalan Imambara on 10th Muharram in memory of the tragic martyrdom of Imam Hussain (RA) on this day at Karbala in Iraq. Same observations are made elsewhere in the country.
Durga Puja, the biggest festival of the Hindu community continues for ten days, the last three days being culmination with the idol immersed in rivers. In Dhaka the big celebrations are held at Dhakeswari Temple, where a fair is also held and at the Ram Krishna Mission.
Christmas, popularly called “Bara Din (Big Day)”, is celebrated with pomp in Dhaka and elsewhere in the country. Several day-long large gatherings are held at St. Mary’s Cathedral at Ramna, Portuguese Church at Tejgaon, Church of Bangladesh (Protestant) on Johnson Road and Bangladesh Baptist Sangha at Sadarghat Dhaka. Functions include illumination of churches, decorating Christmas tree and other Christian festivities.
Birth anniversary of the noble laureate Rabindranath Tagore on 25th Baishakh (May) and that of the National Poet Kazi Nazrul Islam on 11th Jaystha (May) are observed throughout the country. Their death anniversaries are also marked in the same way. Big gatherings and song sessions organized by socio-cultural organizations are salient features of the observance of the days.
Tagore is the writer of our national anthem while National Poet Kazi Nazrul Islam is famous as Rebel Poet.
At a place near Sonargaon (about 27 km. from Dhaka) a very attractive festival observed by the Hindu Community every year on the last day of Chaittra (last Bengali month) – mid April, when the devotees take religious bath in the river.
There are various other festivals that are habitually observed by Bangalees all the year round.
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