The vibrant and colourful procession, Mangal Shobhajatra, in which thousands of people from all walks of life join spontaneously as part of celebrating Pahela Baishakh, is just over a week away.
Every year on April 14, students of the Institute of Fine Arts of Dhaka University bring out the main procession as part of the celebration on the first day of the Bangla calendar.
And ahead of the Mangal Shobhajatra, literally meaning wellbeing procession, the faculty is bursting with activities. While visiting the premises, the news agency found students busy making colourful paintings, replicas, masks and bamboo frames.
There was a sense of festivity in the air. The premises were also swarmed by students of other departments and visitors watching the preparation and the colourful display of masks.
The procession features large colourful masks, various animal-shaped carnival floats, and replicas of birds, butterflies, traditional dolls and other motifs highlighting culture and heritage.
“This year's main focus is to spread the message of peace…,” said Afi Azad Bunty, a student of printmaking department. “Our works will represent the simplicity of rural life,” said Azad, also a member of the organising committee.
On the day, people will march to the rhythm of drums to share the joy of festivity and values of harmony, said Fahmida Akter. She said this special celebration is now a part of the international culture. “It is a matter of pride for us to be a part of the organising team,” she said.
The works prepared and designed by the students have also been put on display for selling to raise funds for bringing out the procession as no sponsor from any private firm is allowed.
The formal preparation works were inaugurated by eminent artist Rafiqun Nabi at the faculty on March 15. Convener of the procession and dean of the fine arts faculty Prof Nisar Hossain and chairman of drawing and painting department Prof Shishir Bhattacharya were also present.
The celebrations of Pahela Baishakh have become an integral part of the Bangalee culture since its beginning almost six centuries back. The day is a public holiday.
And Mangal Shobhajatra remains the centerpiece of the Pahela Baishakh observance. It has also been inscribed on Unesco's Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity on November 30, 2016.
The procession symbolises the pride the people of Bangladesh have in their folk heritage, as well as their strength and courage to fight against sinister forces, and their vindication of truth and justice, according to the Unesco proclamation.