You are wrong if you think that Mongol Shobhajatra began long ago. A group of students of Fine Arts Institute of Dhaka University (DU) brought out the first colourful procession marking Pahela Baishakh in 1989. And over the years, this has become an integral part of the urban form of Bangla New Year celebrations.
Known as Mongol Shobhajatra, each year the procession – amid fanfare and colourful festivity – inspires people to leave behind the gloom of the past year and imbue with determination to move forward with its cultural heritage and well-being.
Every year, new themes – relevant to the country's culture and politics – are picked up.
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In an exclusive interview with The Daily Star, Aminul Hasan Litu, one of the organisers of the first celebration procession and a former student of the institute, shared the aspirations and thoughts which motivated him and his fellow students to organise Ananda Shobhajatra (procession of joy) then.
This youthful and vibrant procession gained popularity from the very first year, and therefore we started planning to hold it in an organised way in the coming years, said Litu.
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After taking suggestions from eminent personalities like Tagore exponent and cultural activist Wahidul Haque and Language Movement veterans – Emdad Hossain, the procession was renamed ‘Baishakh Utshab – Mongol Shobhajatra’ the following year, he said.
“We made a giant elephant and 10-12 horses with bamboo structures, head wears and masks that time. We had to collect money from our fellow students to bear the cost,” Litu recalled.