Friday, April 14, 2006

Pohela Boishakh

Today is Pohela Boishakh, the beginning of the Bengali Year.

Many changes since the last time I spent Pohela Boishakh in Bangladesh. Most of it for the better: lots of parties ("functions"), women wearing attractive cotton saris on the streets (why can't they come out more often? Sometimes Dhaka seems like a city of men!), and a strong sense of happiness and cultural unity all over.

The best part of the day was when we were driving in front of a Garments factory. Suddenly a few hundred young women, workers at the factory, poured out of the gates, all wearing the same stunningly beautiful red-and-white sari. The saris were a gift from the company. What a breathless spectacle.

Back in my days,
We did not greet people with "shubho noboborsho" - it sounds too artificial
We did not eat Panta Bhat and Ilish Machh - this one is a shopkeeper's trick
We did not jam up all the main roads of the town heading off to the parties

To Pohela Boishakh I say "My, you have grown! Just like the rest of the country."

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