DHAKA, BANGLADESH, April 16, 2017 (Dhaka Tribune, editorial by Syed Zakir Hossain): The clerics have already denounced the festival of Pohela Boishakh, Bengali New Year, as a Hindu festival and they don’t want others to celebrate it. They had elaborated and insisted that it is indeed a Hindu ritual with so much fervor that, as a result, many people over the years have distanced themselves from the festival.
From my own experiences, I’ve seen the number of participants in the festival decline over recent years. One major reason for this decline is the argument of whether the Boishakh festival is Islamic or un-Islamic. These clerics are solely responsible for turning this vibrant cultural celebration into an un-Islamic festival. Not to forget, the Boishakh festival is the only festival in Bangladesh where people from all religions, classes, sexes participate together. Now imagine what most of the clerics have done across the country with their acrimonious sermons against an innocent cultural festival like Pohela Boishakh.
Many people are now ambivalent about Boishakh’s celebrations. This ambivalence forecasts a dangerous future, because it can possibly lead to a gradual reluctance to engage in all things Pohela Boishakh — even a complete rejection of the festival is foreseeable.