People are welcoming the Bengali New Year amidst a countrywide lockdown, much like last year, as Covid-19 cases are on the rise again. Cultural organisations and event spaces have arranged virtual celebrations.
For the second year in a row, Chhayanaut announced that it will organise virtual programmes with Bangladesh Television (BTV), marking Pohela Boishakh instead of staging its traditional gathering at the capital's Ramna Batamul to usher in the Bengali 1428 calendar year, due to the ongoing second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. Aside from BTV, Chhayanaut aired the programme on its YouTube Channel Chhayanaut Digital - Platform, this morning.
"We compiled several songs, recordings of previous celebrations, recitations and speeches among other arrangements for this year's virtual programme," shared Laisa Ahmed Lisa, renowned singer and General Secretary, Chhayanaut. "We were conducting rehearsals for the occasion, but we did not want to put any of our students' lives in danger. We decided to cancel the rehearsals."
Faculty of Fine Art, DU, fondly known as Charukola, has been arranging the procession, "Mangal Shobhajatra" every year. For the second time in a row, this procession was postponed, and Charukola retorted to the virtual medium. With plans of bringing out the procession on a limited scale, preparations were made, but unfortunately, due to a rise in Covid-19 cases and deaths, all arrangements were changed.
"We have arranged a symbolic celebration, on a small scale. Students and teachers displayed masks and artworks at the spot, maintaining health and safety guidelines," said Professor Nisar Hossain, Dean, Faculty of Fine Art, Dhaka University. TV Channels across the country aired Charukola's video celebrations in the morning.
Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy (BSA) has also arranged a virtual programme, welcoming 1428. The online event, featuring Asaduzzman Noor, Professor Dr Syed Manzoorul Islam, and Liaquat Ali Lucky among other renowned cultural personalities, aired live from BSA's official Facebook page and YouTube channel in the morning.
"Given the present Covid-19 conditions in the country, we decided to not have any Boishakh celebrations this year," expressed Rezwanul Kamal Chowdhury, Manager of Communications, Bengal Foundation. "Due to the lockdown, our ongoing exhibition had to be shifted online and in the upcoming days, we will be more active online."
This year, cultural organisations and event spaces are better prepared to deal with the challenges of the pandemic.
"Last year, the restrictions induced by the pandemic were shocking to us, as we had never been in a situation like that before. But this year, we are more equipped to face the obstacles," shared Rezwanul Kamal Chowdhury. "We have been virtually active since last year, and we have learned a lot."
"There are certain challenges of conducting online classes on music, dance and other cultural activities," expressed Laisa Ahmed Lisa. Chhayanaut will continue its online classes during the lockdown, starting the academic year from Boishakh. "We are habituated with this form of learning, and we will continue to do our best to conduct classes online."
The country has lost many renowned cultural personalities to Covid-19 in recent times. "A void has emerged in our lives with the passing away of so many icons. We feel their absence and miss their valuable guidance on every step of the way," expressed Rezwanul Kamal Chowdhury.
"We do not know when we will get back to our usual ways, but we are welcoming the New Year with hopes of better days ahead," added Laisa Ahmed Lisa.