Boi Mela to kick off Feb 1 after 3 years
In the last two years, Amar Ekushey Boi Mela has been marred by fears, delays, and uncertainties caused by the pandemic. However, Bangla Academy hopes that this year's book fair will return to its former glory with life getting back on track.
Bangla Academy has decided to hold this year's Boi Mela from February 1, the usual date, after three long years, sending a message to bookworms that this edition will be a special one for them.
The 2022 edition was held between February 15 to March 28 with strict Covid-19 restrictions in place, as the country was coming off fresh from the enforced lockdown due to Covid-19 in the first two weeks of February. In 2021, it started on March 18 due to the pandemic and also ended early -- on April 12, instead of April 14 -- due to a countrywide lockdown.
Although the fair starts on February 1 every year, the tradition was first broken in 2020 because of the Dhaka City Corporation elections. That year, the event started on February 2.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will be present in person and inaugurate this year's book fair on February 1. As the event is knocking at the door, Bangla Academy and publishing houses are currently busy with last minute preparations. The construction of stages and book stalls are going on in full swing at the premises of Bangla Academy and Suhrawardy Udyan.
This year, 858 stalls and 38 pavilions of 609 organisations have been allocated, confirmed Bangla Academy sources.
PREMISES DIVIDED INTO FOUR PARTS
The fair premises at Bangla Academy and Suhrawardy Udyan have been divided into four parts. Those are Chittaranjan Saha Chattar, named after the owner of Muktadhara Prakashani; Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Chattar; Bangamata Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Chattar; and Sheikh Russel Shishu Chattar. While Chittaranjan Saha Chattar will be located at Bangla Academy, the other three will be at the Uddyan.
Stalls and pavilions that were set up towards the Institute of Engineers last year, would be brought to the Uddyan this year. There will be a writer's stage, an open stage, prayer place and food shops inside the Uddyan.
The entry point of the Uddyan, opposite to the Bangla Academy entrance, which was in place last year, will only be there as an exit point this year.
Visitors can enter the Uddyan through the main gate located opposite to the TSC intersection of DU, and another gate in the middle.
State Minister for Cultural Affairs KM Khalid said, "Some rearrangements have been made to make the life of visitors even easier. We are happy with our preparations so far."
KM Muzahidul Islam, member secretary of the fair-management committee, said, "Due to the ongoing construction of the metro rail station located on the road between Suhrawardy Udyan and Bangla Academy, the stall decoration and style of the fair have been changed."
Besides, digital placards will be in place at the fair instead of banners and festoons.
"Stalls and pavilions were allotted to the publications through a lottery on Sunday. The publishing houses will have to complete the work of their stall and pavilion by January 29," he noted.
TASKFORCE TO ENFORCE BOOK FAIR POLICY
For the first time ever, the authorities have decided to form a taskforce that will decide which books are against the policies of the fair's organising body.
KM Khalid said, "There is a policy on which books are publishable. The publications participating in the fair will have to follow that policy. A taskforce has been formed to enforce this."
"An office has also been set up at the fair for the taskforce members. They will take action as per rules," he mentioned.
Khalid, however, added that formation of the taskforce will not curb freedom of expression and free-thinking.