When is the Bangladesh New Year?

22 Apr 2024 - Category: Blog /
bangladesh year

Pohela Boishakh, or the Bangladesh New Year, is the Bengali people's unique celebration, distinct from many others with religious or folkloric roots.

As the morning rises on April 14th each year, Bangladeshis worldwide gather to celebrate, wear vibrant clothes, enjoy traditional dishes, and participate in numerous activities.

Are you new to Bangladesh Sangkranti and curious to learn more about their colorful festivities on the Bengali New Year?

Well, you are certainly in the right place! Here, we will go over everything you wish to know, from the small details about the Bangladesh New Year date to the unique festivals celebrated on this day! Let's dive right into it!.


The History and Significance of Bangladesh New Year

Tracing the roots of the celebration of the Pohela Baishakh brings up different popular but convincing interpretations. One popular interpretation is that the celebration originated under Emperor Akbar, one of the greatest Mughal rulers in Bengal (1556-1609).

During this time, Agriculture was the country's primary source of income, and agricultural taxes were based on the Arabic or Hijri year. However, the Hijri calendar was lunar-based and would need to align with the agricultural solar year, making it difficult for the taxpayers.

When Emperor Akbar realized this, he established new rules for tax collection and created a calendar to ensure that people could pay their taxes on time. This was a remarkable move on Emperor Akbar's part to help the common people, and he also created a new way to celebrate the Bangladeshi New Year.

But many think Shashanka, an Indian ruler from the seventh century, introduced the Bengali calendar.

Another piece of evidence indicating that the Bengali calendar predates Akbar's reign is the presence of the word Bangabda in two pre-Akbari Shiva temples.

Muhammad Shahidullah oversaw a group that revised the traditional Bengali calendar in 1966; Bangladesh formally adopted the revised calendar in 1987.

Since then, Bangladesh has celebrated the New Year on April 14th. During the 1950s and 1960s, the event also became a popular way for the people of Bangladesh to display their cultural pride and heritage against Pakistani dictators.

What Are the Rituals and Celebrations of the Bangladeshi New Year?

Pohela Baishakh, the Bengali New Year, is greeted with a symphony of rites and celebrations as the first morning light hits the horizon in Bangladesh. All around the nation, communities gather at the first light of day to celebrate and engage in long-standing traditions, rituals, and cultural expressions.

Among them, some of the most common rituals and celebrations to welcome the day include –

1. Boishakhi Mela (Fairs/Festivals)

Boishakhi Mela, also known as the Boishakhi Fair, is the centerpiece of this centuries-old Bangladeshi celebration. Everyone in the neighborhood gathers to enjoy the holiday with their loved ones.

You will find these fairs throughout the country on the day, and each Mela has unique and traditional wares to sell.

Among the many items, you can expect to find handcrafted candies, clay figures, toys, handloom sarees, seasonal produce, glass bangles, flutes, and many other hidden gems! Fairs like these now also feature a lot of branded jewelry.

You can shop at these fairs and enjoy various live entertainment like magic shows, plays, Putul Nach (puppet dance), circus, etc.

2. Mongol Shobhajatra (Possession of Good Wishes)

Pohela Boishakh festivities would not be complete without the colorful Mongol Shobhajatra, a parade making its way through the streets of Bangladesh.

The Prestigious University of Dhaka's Faculty of Fine Arts (Charukala) students organize this parade every year. Students, artists, and community members lead this parade to bring goodwill, peace, and harmony to the New Year.

While walking, people will welcome Pohela Boishakh with Rabindranath Tagore's famous song Esho hey Boishakh, Esho Esho, with a smile. The Mongol Shobhajatra is a unique festival that attracts people from all walks of life. In 2016, UNESCO recognized the festival's unique creative element and awarded it Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

3. Traditional Attire

One of the most significant rituals of Pohela Baishakh is to dress up in traditional Bengali attire. People start the day by waking up early, bathing, and dressing in new clothes.

The men wear Punjabis and red and white dhotis, while the women wear blouses and sarees adorned with colorful bangles and flowers.

Seeing the children dressed in colorful traditional clothes and wearing beautiful smiles to have fun is adorable. Such vibrant clothing enhances the lively mood of the festivities, with colors standing for happiness, wealth, and national pride.

New clothes signify new beginnings and a fresh start for the New Year.

4. Traditional Food

Pohela Boishakh cannot be complete without eating traditional delicacies like any other festival. Households prepare various traditional foods and enjoy them together as a part of embracing the celebrations for the day.

People typically start their day by tasting Panta Bhat, a traditional rice dish fermented overnight, different Bhartas (mashed vegetables), and Hilsha fish.

For desserts, people enjoy various Pithas or rice cakes and sweets like Roshgolla and Sandesh. The festival wouldn't be the same without these customary joyful foods; without them, the celebration's core is missing.

5. Halkhata

Halkhata is a traditional practice that almost every Bengali would associate with Pohela Baishakh festivities. As the Bangla New Year begins, business owners will start fresh with a new set of ledger books to record financial transactions.

As per the traditions, they welcome new and returning customers with sweets as they begin their business or trades for the New Year.

The practice of opening a new ledger and welcoming customers with sweets is the famous Halkhata. However, this practice has become less common in urban areas now.

Even so, first thing on the dot of Pahela Baishakh, merchants in rural regions would clean and decorate their stores with paper flowers before opening for business.

We are on the brink of losing this thousand-year-old custom. Old Dhaka merchants will host a smaller version of the Halkhata celebration this Friday.

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Happy Pohela Baishakh from Small World!

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