Winter is the time of hibernation; a long, deep sleep for many animals through the harsh weather. The end of winter, therefore, marks the awakening of nature; new leaves bloom out on trees, flowers blossom and bees hover around in search of nectar, as new life is injected in the air, and all the gloom and mist of winter is left behind. Though such an image may not be very relevant in a city as mechanised as Dhaka, but the citizens of the 'concrete jungle' have sure found a way to metaphorically express the advent of Spring.
Pahela Falgun, or the First Day of Spring, has grown in size and fervour immensely over the last decade or so. It's safe to say it is not one of the oldest celebrations, especially in the city, but it has found character and expanded very quickly to become a major festivity. As with most traditional Bangalee festivals, it too has its epicentre at the heart of Dhaka University. The Faculty of Fine Arts, fondly called Charukala, is the place to be on this day. However, this year, the Jatiyo Boshonto Utshab Udjapon Parishad (JBUUP) decided to decentralise the celebration, rightly anticipating the pressure of people at the small venue that is the Bokultala of Charukala. Apart from the prime venue, Dhanmondi's Rabindra Sorobor and the Bahadur Shah Park in Old Dhaka.
As people dressed in yellow, ochre and various other bright colours began to gather at the Bokultala, a sweet melody in esraj welcomed them, performed by Akram Hossain. Gradually, choral songs, solos, recitation and group dance performances ushering in the spirit of Spring in all its bursting exuberance was soaked in by an expectant audience. Nrityam, Bhabna, Nataraj and Spandan and Pooja Sengupta and her group performed group dance pieces, Surer Dhara, Rabindra Sangeet Sammilan Parishad, Sur Saptak and Satyen Sen Shilpi Goshthi, among others, performed choral songs, while Khairul Anam Shakil, Chandana Majumdar and Indrani Karmakar performed solos. Elocutionists Bhashwar Bandopadhyay and Laila Afroze recited poems in the morning session.
The afternoon session at Bokultala featured solo and group dance and music performances and recitation of poems, and a dance-drama by Shadhona, while the afternoon sessions held at Rabindra Sorobor and Bahadur Shah Park featured group dances, solo and choral songs. The programmes were broadcast live on Channel i, ntv and Ekattor TV.
But the music, dance and poems were just the accessories for an enhanced experience, as people of all ages and classes walked out today to breathe in the fresh air of a new season. Bushra Mahzabeen, a lecturer of a private university, said it's easy to get alienated from nature in the busy metropolitan life, so to celebrate a bright episode of nature is always a special feeling. Towhidul Islam Khan, a journalist by profession, meanwhile said the celebration gives us a chance to connect to the brightness and freshness of Spring, through the beautiful music and poetry written on the season.