Pohela Baishakh is around the corner, and it is more than just dressing in red and white and singing 'Esho hey Baishakh' for one day. While sometimes we are partially guilty of not staying in touch with the entire cultural history, we can make the use of a refresher from time to time.
For this Baishakh, the highlight is on the Mongol Shobhajatra- a colourful procession that is an integral part of today's Baishakhi celebrations.
The Shobajatra turns 28 this year
You may have this notion that the Mongol Shobhajatra is being held for ages. But in fact, it only started in 1989, and the people behind it are Mahabub Jamal Shamim, Moklesur Rahman and Heronmay Chanda.
UNESCO recognises it as 'cultural heritage'
Officially, on 30 November 2016, it was inscribed in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by the UNESCO. The works for this significant inclusion began in in 2014 when the Bangla Academy compiled a nomination file that was approved by the Ministry of Cultural Affairs of Bangladesh and submitted to UNESCO.
Preparations start a month prior
Although held throughout Bangladesh, the procession in Dhaka has its own grandeur and all-encompassing presence. It's no wonder since the preparations are well planned and executed within a specific time line. From the masks to painting the shora (clay shallow bowls) to making the big float sculptures - everything is made by the students of Dhaka University's Fine Arts Institution.
Must-have representative themes
The Mongol Shobhajatra literally means 'procession for well-being' and that well-being is resonated through three themes. One set of decorations are meant to show oppression and evil, the second set is representative of the people's courage and strength to overcome said evil. The final third theme reflects peace and solidarity of the people.
You can take a part of the procession home with you!
After the procession the masks are often given away or sold as part of a charity fund drive. It is best to check beforehand to avoid any disappointments. Also artworks portraying the day are sold to connoisseurs as well as interested people.
There you have it, for the coming Bangla New Year 1424, you are now two steps ahead of your peers in terms of know-how. As far as understanding one's own culture goes, valid and sensible sources are your best friends for reference.
By Iris Farina
Photo: Sheikh Mehedi Morshed