Things to Do and Places to Be on Pohela Boishakh
The Bengali New Year or Pohela Boishakh is an important event for Bengalis everywhere, and is celebrated with great festivity throughout Bangladesh and West Bengal. If you are planning to enjoy the day with friends and family (I know I am), here are some budget friendly options for you to celebrate Pohela Boishakh:
Chhayanaut at the Ramna Botomul
To start off the day, you can head off to attend the musical program organized by Chhayanaut at the Ramna Botomul from dawn. It is an open-air concert that is free for all, provided you go early enough to snag yourself a seat or two; because lots of people attend this program. Dressing up in red and white is optional, but is always appreciated. There are different cultural groups that perform here, with solos and group performances of song, dance and recitation to entertain the guests. It is also telecast live on national television. The entire program is around two hours long, but you can leave whenever you like. I personally feel that if you have made the extra effort to go to Ramna Botomul, then you should definitely stay till the end to sing “Esho He Boishakh” to welcome summer. Word of caution: the place gets very crowded as this is THE place to be on pohela boishakh.
You may also take part in “Mongol Shobhajatra” near Charukola, which is a colorful rally and free for all. There is also a fair at Charukola where traditional Bangali items like glass bangles, clay jewelry and traditional snacks are for sale on the day of the New Year, which many people love to attend.
Different Fairs and Cultural Programs
There are other local functions you can also attend if you do not want to go to Ramna Botomul. Different private and public universities, like JU, DU, BUET organize a “Borsho Boron” program either on the 14th of April, or before or after the date—which usually has cultural functions and fairs with rides and traditional snacks and food items which are normally open for all.
Many people also often choose to attend the different “melas” or fairs held prior to Boishakh or on Pohela Boishakh itself; such as the ones organized by MIDAS, RAOWA, WVA, or sponsored by big brands like Mojo (concert by Mojo in Dhaka University) or Ayush (Hajaro Konthe Borsho Boron at BICC). The most noted fairs are held at the WVA Auditorium, the Banani playground, the Dhanmondi-8 playground, Rabindra Sarobor in Dhanmondi, and in Shahbagh (on the streets). Prior to the Bengali New Year, many shopping malls have stalls inside and outside them where you could go to buy glass bangles or clay and metal jewelry and home decoration items to accessorize your outfit or home on the special day.
Boishakhi Platter & Panta Ilish
On the day of this particular festival, we Bengalis love to eat “panta bhaat” (cooked rice soaked in water) with green chillies, an assortment of “bhortas” (mashed vegetables, dried fish, etc) and fried Hilsha pieces. However, since the price of fresh Hilsha tends to escalate before Pohela Boishakh, you could always opt to eat at one of the restaurants that offer Boishakhi budget platters and discounts. Alongside the higher-end hotels providing traditional buffet, there are also mid-range restaurants providing equally great offers on the day.
If you would like to treat your family and friends to a traditional panta-ilish or a similar meal, you can check out one of the many restaurants offering platters, buffet meals or discounts specifically on the occasion of Pohela Boishakh. There is a comprehensive list of such restaurants here:
If none of these ideas appeal to you, then you could just stay in and watch any of the special dramas/shows telecast on the Bengali TV channels, and celebrate it indoors with your loved ones!