Ramna Park, Dhaka
Last week Bangladesh celebrated their New Year. The historical importance of Pohela Boishakh in the Bangladeshi context began in 1965. In an attempt to suppress Bengali culture, the Pakistani Government had banned poems written by Rabindranath Tagore, the most famous poet and writer in Bengali literature. Protesting this move, Chhayanat opened their Pohela Boishakh celebrations at Ramna Park with Tagore’s song welcoming the month. The day continued to be celebrated in East Pakistan as a symbol of Bengali culture. After 1972 it became a national festival, a symbol of the Bangladesh nationalist movement.
Shooting Pohela Boishakh
Sometimes it’s an advantage to be a foreigner. I had left my press pass at home but the SWAT team like special forces assigned to the event (center) let me use the platform to video tape from. A few years back there was a bomb blast in Ramna Park during Pohela Boishakh so security was heightened.
Last night there was lots of excitement in the air. People were rushing around getting ready for Lailatul Barat. This public holiday marks two weeks before Ramadan and there seemed to be an inordinate amount of meat being slaughtered for the occasion. Many of the men stay up all night and pray at the Mosque. After an intensive afternoon of shooting I was to tired to keep my eyes open after dinner. On the next day, since the streets were quiet I took the opportunity to visit old Dhaka. It only took 30 minutes which during rush hour can be over a two hour trip. Another holiday in the photo below. Those people in line are filling up their bowels with lentil stew provide in honor of Bangabandu mourning Anniversary to mark the 32nd anniversary of independence leader Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. “On August 15, 1975, a band of errant, misguided military officers gruesomely assassinated Sheikh Mujib, the architect of independent Bangladesh along with most of his family, close relatives and staff. “
It dawned on me this morning that I haven’t had coffee since being here. The tea is delicious and is served in demi-tasse cups with condensed milk. It’s very common to see groups of men sitting together in these tea stalls chewing beetle nut and inevitably being invited to sit down and join them. I really have to be persistent to let them have me pay. On every street there seems to be many places that serve fresh nan bread that is served with a small plate of yellow lentil dal. It makes for a very tasty breakfast.