Pledge to build prosperous Bangladesh
The clock struck 8:00am.
In sync, students, government employees and politicians across the country stood up, faced the national flag and started singing the national anthem -- Amar Sonar Bangla Ami Tomay Bhalobashi -- in chorus. Their voices were filled with emotions and their eyes showed an unquantifiable respect for the Liberation War martyrs.
It was the first time the anthem was sung across the country simultaneously as the nation celebrated its 48th Independence Day with renewed vigour to build a prosperous and peaceful Bangladesh.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina led the nation in singing the national anthem at a rally of children and juveniles at Bangabandhu National Stadium in the capital.
Earlier, she hoisted the national flag before a huge audience comprised of cabinet members, students of different educational institutions and their parents. She inaugurated the rally by releasing balloons and pigeons.
The PM distributed prizes among the winners of nationwide school competitions held between January 20 and March 15 on correctly singing the national anthem.
Under an initiative of the Prime Minister's Office and supervision of the Cabinet Division, the competitions were held at every educational institution across the country. Around 63 lakh students of primary, secondary, higher secondary and madrasa levels took part in the competitions, reports BSS.
Yesterday, people from all walks of life poured onto the streets to join different programmes to celebrate the day and pay tributes to the martyrs of the 1971 Liberation War. They emphasised on working together for the economic prosperity of the country.
The anthem was also sung at the foreign missions of Bangladesh at 8:00am of their local time.
This year's celebration had another dimension. The country recently became eligible to graduate to a developing country from a least developed one.
"Although we have progressed a lot in the last four decades, we have to work together for economic prosperity and ending discrimination," said Alamgir Hossain, a resident of Gazipur.
The 45-year-old, along with his wife and son, visited the National Memorial in Savar to pay respect to the martyrs.
"We have achieved our independence at the cost of many lives. So we must work to fulfil their dreams of a country free from poverty," he added.
Thousands of people thronged the memorial on the outskirts of the capital from dawn to dusk yesterday. The vast area swarmed with people of all ages and many of them wore colourful bandanas displaying patriotic slogans.
President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina paid tributes to the Liberation War martyrs by placing wreaths at the altar of the memorial early in the morning.
After placing wreaths, they stood in solemn silence for some time as a mark of profound respect to the memories of the martyred freedom fighters.
A smartly turned-out contingent drawn from Bangladesh Army, Navy and Air Force presented a state salute on the occasion, while the bugles played the last post.
After returning from the National Memorial, the prime minister, flanked by senior party leaders, paid homage to Father of the National Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman by placing a wreath at his portrait in front of the Bangabandhu Memorial Museum at Dhanmondi in the capital.
Hasina also released a commemorative postage stamp, a first-day cover and a data card marking the Independence and National Day. She also greeted all freedom fighters of the country on the day.
President Abdul Hamid hosted a reception at the Bangabhaban.
The day was a public holiday. The national flag was hoisted atop government buildings, offices of corporate bodies, leading business houses and homes to mark the day.
Important buildings and establishments as well as city streets and islands were illuminated with the light of red and green -- the colour of the national flag.
Ruling Awami League and different other political parties as well as socio-cultural and professional organisations organised elaborate programmes.
The day was also celebrated at all divisional cities, district towns, upazilas, and municipalities.
The state-owned Bangladesh Betar and Bangladesh Television as well as private television channels broadcast special programmes and newspapers brought out special supplements, highlighting the significance of the day.
Special prayers were offered at religious centres across the country for the eternal peace of the martyrs and seeking divine blessings for the country's prosperity.
Improved diets were served to the inmates of hospitals, jails, old homes and other public institutions marking the day.
Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) and Indian Border Security Force (BSF) exchanged greetings and sweetmeat at the Hili border of Dinajpur.
Meanwhile, Liberation War Museum and Ovhijaatri, a platform of travel enthusiasts, organised a procession from Central Shaheed Minar to National Memorial in Savar, honouring the war martyrs.
The 36km march started from Shaheed Minar at 6:00am, went to historic places including Jagannath Hall Killing Field and Rayerbazar Killing Field, and ended at the National Martyrs' Memorial in Savar.
[Our Savar correspondent contributed to this report]