Colorful Dhaka procession marks new year festivities

Thousands of people took to the streets of Dhaka to celebrate the Bengali new year. (AN photo by Shehab Sumon Dhaka)
Updated 15 April 2019

Colorful Dhaka procession marks new year festivities

  • Bangladesh president and prime minister send greetings to citizens

DHAKA: Thousands of people took to the streets of Dhaka on Sunday to celebrate the Bengali new year.
Vast inflatable animals and colorful banners could be seen in a procession — known as Mongol Shovajatra — to mark the holiday.
The Mughal emperor Akbar is said to have introduced the Bengali calendar in 1556 for the purpose of tax collection.
The first day of the new year, Pohela Boishakh, is when businessmen traditionally update their account books and people settle debts.
“During the Mughal regime, it was an agriculture-based economy and that’s why people didn’t have enough cash in hand,” Dr. Shamsujjaman Khan, Bangladesh folklore expert, told Arab News.
“Since it is centered on the paddy-harvesting period, the farmers used to sell it to have the cash and bought new clothes and other necessary things for their family, which eventually turned it into a festival. This is the most secular occasion for the people of this land, since people from all religions and classes take part in this festivity. It is an integral part of our culture and heritage.”
President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina sent their greetings to citizens, expressing wishes for a happy and prosperous nation.
Mongol Shovajatra was the main attraction for Dhaka-dwellers celebrating the new year.
The procession has been organized by students from the Fine Arts Institute of Dhaka University since 1989.
UNESCO declared the procession part of the country’s “intangible world cultural heritage” in 2016.   
“It’s a procession which represents the essence of Bengali culture where people unite at the beginning of every year and promise to fight against all evil forces,” 39-year-old businessman Abdur Rahman told Arab News.
He has been taking part in the procession for 11 years.
Tahmina Begum, a 21-year-old student at Dhaka University, was at the procession with classmates and friends.
“It’s a symbol of our communal harmony as people from all religions and sects participate,” she told Arab News.
“It is the only festival which upholds the secular spirit of our country and I feel very proud to be a part of this festival.”

UK police arrest man after stabbing at London Central Mosque

Updated 16 min 22 sec ago

UK police arrest man after stabbing at London Central Mosque

  • Victim was treated by paramedics before being taken to hospital
  • Man who was attacked in his 70s and stabbed multiple times

LONDON: A man attacked the elderly muezzin at one of London’s main mosques on Thursday, stabbing him in the neck before being arrested.

Metropolitan Police said they were called to London Central Mosque in Regent’s Park after reports of a stabbing.

Police were called to London Central Mosque, also known as Regent's Park mosque, on the city's Park Road to reports of a stabbing. (James Stringer/Flickr)

The attack targeted the muezzin, who performs the mosque’s call to prayer, the Muslim hate crime monitor TellMAMA, said. 

The man who was attacked is in his 70s and was stabbed multiple times, Sky News reported.

He was treated by paramedics before being taken to hospital. His injuries are thought to be non-life threatening.

Police said a man was arrested at the scene on suspicion of attempted murder and a crime scene was put in place.

Video showed police subduing a man inside the mosque before leading him away in handcuffs. He was wearing a red hooded top and no shoes. 

Director-general of the Islamic Cultural Centre, part of the mosque, Dr. Ahmad Al-Dubayan described the attack and the emergency services’ response while confirming the victim was in a good condition.

He told Arab News: “We don’t have any information about the motive for this incident, why he did this or who he is even.

“Of course, we are unhappy about what happened, but we all hope that it was an individual attack and nothing linked to anything further than this attack itself.

“But we are worried and sorry about what has happened.” 

A makeshift area for sunset prayers was set up in the mosque so that worshippers could still pray despite the incident.