Shubho Nabo Barsho 2021: How Bengalis celebrate Pohela Boisakh to usher in new year

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Pohela Boisakh is the first day of the Bengali Calendar which traces its roots to ancient India. 'Boishakh' is the first month in the traditional Hindu Bengali and Nepali calendar. It is also the official calendar of Bangladesh.

Pohela Boisakh is usually celebrated on 14 or 15 April with much gusto in Bengal, Tripura and Assam. At the beginning of the Bengali new year, people wear new clothes and pay special attention to food preparations. People also visit special fairs that are organised to celebrate the day.

However, since the world is in the middle of a COVID-19 pandemic, the celebrations this year are expected to be low-key. But that doesn't stop anyone from exercising caution and observing the festival with their immediate family members at home.

Houses are also decorated on the arrival of the Bengali new year. With the year ending, the Bengali community brings home the Panjika, a book with all the important dates for the upcoming New Year. The community plans all the crucial events, including weddings, in the next year according to this book.

The festival traces its roots to the Mughal rule in the Indian sub-continent. The date for the celebration, though, is set according to the lunisolar Bengali calendar and hence it always falls on 14 April every year on the Gregorian calendar.

Reports also say that Akbar followed the lunar Islamic Hijri calendar and it never coincided with agriculture cycles, compelling him to start a new harvest calendar called Fasholi Shan. It is widely believed that the new harvest calendar is how the foundation for the Bengali calendar was set.

The day is of special significance to people cutting across communities in Bangladesh and it is a national holiday in the country. UNESCO, in 2016, declared the festivities organised by the Faculty of Fine Arts, the University of Dhaka as a cultural heritage of humanity.

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