A quick reflection on Bengali New Year - Tushar Roy
"Each age has deemed the new-born year; the fittest time for festal cheer." - Sir Walter Scott
"Good resolutions are simply cheques that men draw on a bank; where they have no account." - Oscar Wilde
Apparently all inhabitants in this planet maintain a calendar in some form or other, irrespective of their geographic location, ethnicity, linguistic or cultural backgrounds. And hence they all have celebrations and rituals of various types to farewell the departing year and welcome the next.
The 1929 Nobel laureate poet Thomas Mann said “Time has no divisions to mark its passage; there is never a thunder-storm or blare of trumpets to announce the beginning of a new month or year. Even when a new century begins it is only we mortals who ring bells and fire off pistols.”
We all know that we still have some very good reasons to celebrate a new year, in a colourful way, with excitement and jubilance, so that the monotony of our mundane life can be posted in time’s archive and we make a fresh start with new aspirations, dreams and vigour.
In the western societies the Christmas, End of Year and New Year celebrations are closely attached and hence the festivity becomes very eventful, thrilling and joyful. Of course, there are differences the way festivities shape up and rituals evolve, which are mainly influenced by the age-old history, tradition and culture of nations; and importantly the peaks and troughs they pass over time while evolving.
Generally the Christmas-New Year break is considered as an opportunity to have as much fun, celebration and partying as possible, to well and truly farewell the bygone year, overcome the losses and grief in that year and then rise up for the new year with new resolutions, spirit and vigour. What happens in a month’s time (especially for resolutions) is a known story, but that never had any remorseful impact nor created a conflict with being ecstatic in the festive season.
Bengali New Year festival has all the same reasons as above, yet it is unique with its purposes, composition, mood and style. This is the time we go back to our roots - our ancient culture and history to renew our connection and loyalty with it. We pause for a short while only to reflect on ourselves and re-energise with inspirations.
We recreate, demonstrate, exchange, promote and practice our indigenous arts, crafts and culture. That’s how we renew and rejuvenate our tradition, culture and heritage. We celebrate life, rejoicingly, appreciating it as a rare opportunity and create hope and dreams that will drive us with more enthusiasm, optimism and vigor in the New Year. Naturally, this has been resonated in Tagore’s writings as: “I have had my invitation to this world’s festival, and thus my life has been blessed”.
This festival in Australia, in a different social and cultural setting in a multicultural society, has some unique implications. This society with inclusive and culturally cohesive approach not only allows the Bengali-speaking community to practice and retain their ancestral culture and influence their younger generations towards it, but also encourages cultural fusions that can enrich the host culture as a resultant. Therefore, lest we forget, as a member of the Bengali community, and alike any other community in Australia, we have an important role to play as we celebrate our events with due festivity and spirit.
As a nation we, the Bangladeshis, have so many reasons to be proud of our recent advancements and achievements in various fronts - in sports, political reforms, economic growth, social justice and the likes. But yet more need to be done and, most importantly, need to retain the achievements and build up on them. It is very pleasing to see representations and participations from other communities in a Bengali New Year celebration, which would foster the interactions and fusions with other cultures around world and bring us on par in many aspects.
With that note, it is the very much appropriate and timely to wish Happy New Year in our own way by saying “Shuvo Nabo Barsho”. Wishing life becomes prosperous, happier and brighter for everyone around the world.