Pohela Boishakh, the first day of Bengali New Year, was celebrated in The Sreepur Village with traditional festivities and enthusiasm. Every year during Pohela Boishakh, the country’s biggest cultural festival, people of all walks of life, especially children and teenagers, come out at daybreak wearing traditional dresses eager to celebrate their most cultural day. The festivals of Pohela Boishakh have become an integral part of Bengladesh since it began over six centuries ago. Mughal Emperor Akbar introduced the Bangla calendar in 1556, during the Gregorian Calendar, in a bid to streamline the timing of land tax collection. However, true to their centuries-old tradition, people from all walks of life of the country welcome the Bengali New Year 1425, with new hopes and aspirations for a better and peaceful year.
At The Sreepur Village, the New Year programme began with Mongal Shovajatra (a procession of good wishes). Mongol Shovajatra is an integral part of the celebrations of Pohela Boishakh. On the first day of Pohela Boishakh, all the mothers and children of The Sreepur Village woke up early and put on their new clothes, a custom that takes place every year, and then they joined in the throngs of the traditional Mongol Shovajatra. The mothers, children, staff and members of the local community all walked along the road to the nearby market proudly bearing their colourful creations of banners, masks, festoons and motifs.
After Mongal Shovajatra, all the mothers and children were served ‘Panta Bhat (watery rice). ‘Panta’ is a traditional dish of leftover rice soaked in water with fried fish, supplemented with shutki-bhorta (mashed dry fish) and fried chillies. We also served a variety of popular Bangla snacks.
In the afternoon, our children alongside their mothers visited different Boishakhi Mela (fairs) where they could buy different toys and food items. In the evening, we also had a cultural programme which consisted of a number of dances and songs performed by the mothers and children. You could say that Pohela Boishakh, in The Sreepur Village, was truly a day to remember.
Ignorance and wrong beliefs surrounding disability, compounded with a negative and derogatory attitude of the community (including family members) have contributed to the marginal development in the disability sector in Bangladesh.