Pahela Baishakh: Bengali New Year

Today, all of Bangladesh is seen observing the Bengali new year or PahelaBaishakh. This Bengali new year observed on the first day of the Bengali month of Baishakh traces back to the time of the imperial Mughal when this date marked the collection of taxes for the emperor from his subjects in the territories that now comprise Bangladesh. The tax collection and opening of accounts –traditionally– by businesses on the occasion came to be associated with festivities that gave the observance of the occasion a cultural character. But that culture embraced not only parochially the dominant cultural pattern of a period, say, the Mughal one, but the entirety of Bengali culture developed and nourished through the ages.
In many ways, Bangladeshis in large number are preserving and upholding their unique cultural identity amid the multi-cultural pulls and attractions of a growingly multi-faceted cultural landscape of the world. On the other hand, the forces such as globalisation, the internet, satellite television, etc., are also making inroads into the inherently Bengali way of life.
While the positive economic effects of globalisation can be acceptable, the same cannot apply to the cultural effects of it. Bangladeshis have a history as old as the oldest civilisations on earth. All the artefacts of a civilised existence dating back thousands of years ago have been discovered in Bangladesh. Bangladesh in antiquity was known as a land of wealth, luxurious living and finery of its crafts.
Its riches, artistry and culture attracted foreigners in the ancient times who travelled to this land to lay their hands on the same and to learn. The brutal colonial subjugation of Bangladesh that happened again and again made the Bangladeshis poor and forced them to unlearn or turn away from some aspects of their native life and living. But their cultural ethos and attainments were never largely given up. Therefore, every year the Bengali new year or PahelaBaishakh comes back to us with renewed fervour.
The Bengali language is one of the top seven recognised international languages in the world scene. The extent of the use of a language is both reflective of its potency and acceptance as a means of communication. Many languages of the world have died away. Other more appealing languages have swallowed them up or obliterated their use. The same has not been the fate of Bengali which is a major language of the world spoken by a very big part of all humanity.
Bengali men of letters won Nobel prize in literature and others distinguished themselves in the world stage for other forms of creative and artistic works involving their own land and culture. The Bengali songs, music, musical instruments, drama, etc., enjoy international renown for their high standards and appreciation. Art, language, music, heritage, cuisine, literature, etc., are the manifestations of a civilised and worthwhile human existence. Bangladeshis can boast of their attainments in every sphere of such an existence.
But occasions such as PahelaBaishak also brings to mind whether the Bengali way of life and living is coming unfairly under an attack from the sleazy forms of alien culture. For example, the enthralling lyrical Bengali songs and music of yesteryears are giving way in some cases to rock bands. But the traditional Bengali songs and music are a real pleasure for the ears and the senses and this truth is admitted even by foreigners. When there is so much appreciation for our culture abroad, it is sad that the appeal of it should be eroding among some sections of the present generation of Bangladeshis and their going after sleaze in the name of style or culture.
Bangladeshis need to remember that their social and cultural existence is not inferior to anybody . Bangladeshis have no reason to feel next to anybody on earth, culturally or socially.
Therefore, it is not only patriotic but also eminently sensible from the perspective of utility to preserve the same.


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