Arts, Culture & Media

Bengali New Year


Bengali New Year (photo: Chantal Anderson)

This week marks the beginning of the New Year according to a traditional solar calendar used in Bangladesh and several of India's eastern states.

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"Every year this New Year comes and we enjoy this festival. This is a huge gathering, the greatest festival in Bangladesh, all the people from every religion, every society, come here and enjoy the New Year".

So for our Geo Quiz, we're looking for the name of the city that's the capital of Bangladesh.

Producer Chantal Anderson sent us an audio postcard from the mega-city of Dhaka, Bangladesh, the answer to our Geo Quiz:

When I was walking down the streets of Dhaka, I saw thousands of people swarming the streets in red and white. The men were wearing panjabis, the women were wearing traditional sarees, red and white, gold bengals halfway up their arms, there were sounds I'd never heard all at once, it was pure chaos, kazoos, drums, the sound of sugar cane machines thumping when they pressed the juice, children screaming, men singing traditional folk songs, it was amazing!

Throughout the day there were spontaneous drum circles of Bangladeshis just getting together and singing. A local friend of mine, Fahima Durrat told me about the spirit of the festival.

"Bangla New Year is all about the Bengali people and whatever your religion is, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist , or Christian, we are all Bengalese…and this song goes very well with it. It tells about the old times when all the communities used to live in peace and we didn't have so many divisions and intolerance … in the old days in the villages, the Hindu and Muslim youth will celebrate together."

As I was walking around I also saw people wearing colorful face masks that were handpainted. They're so intricately designed. There were tigers, elephants, I think I even saw a goatmask. There's so much color and so much flavor just spilling in the streets.

Shubho Nabo Barsho !, that's Happy New Year! from Dhaka, Bangladesh.