The Bangla language has always been at the forefront of our national identity. Amar Ekushey Boi Mela (Book Fair) is a significant part of Bangladesh’s history, culture and literature. Every year, the book fair is held in the month of February. It is the biggest book fair in the country where publishers display and sell printed books under diverse categories. This fair offers great opportunities for the readers to meet their favourite writers, poets, novelists, and publishers face-to-face. Besides serving as a platform to encourage readers to read and buy books, the Boi Mela also works as a monthlong cultural hub – showcasing the diversity of Bangladesh. Let’s look into the history of the Amar Ekushey Boi Mela. CHITTARANJAN SAHA: STARTING BOI MELA FROM A MAT AT BANGLA ACADEMY PREMISES Chittaranjan Saha was born in the Noakhali district in 1927. His publishing house Punthighar Prokashoni, located at Banglabazar in Dhaka, was burnt down in 1971. Chittaranjan Saha left Dhaka after March 26. He took shelter in Agartala and then moved to Calcutta (Kolkata) during the Liberation War. During the Liberation War, many prominent writers, artists, and journalists from Bangladesh had to stay in Calcutta as refugees. During that period, Chittaranjan arranged a meeting with some of the most prominent litterateurs residing in Calcutta. They decided to write and publish about the injustice and war in Bangladesh (then East Pakistan). Thus, Muktodhara was born. In February, 1972, Chittaranjan Saha laid a mat under the tree in front of the Bangla Academy building and put on display about 32 (33 according to some sources) books as a homage to the Language Movement martyrs of 1952. Though Chittaranjan Saha initiated the Boi Mela from a humble beginning, according to some sources, he was not the first person who started selling books at Bangla Academy premises in February. Ruhul Amin Nizami of Standard Publishers started displaying Russian books. Those books were very popular at that time for their rich content and affordable prices. Read More: Ekushey Book Fair to span entire February again after two years HISTORY BEHIND THE FIRST BOOK FAIR IN BANGLADESH Though Chittaranjan Saha is recognised as the initiator of Ekushey Boi Mela, the root of the book fair goes deeper. The first book fair in then East Pakistan was held in 1965. The initiative was taken by Sardar Jainuddin, who was born in 1918 in Pabna. In 1965, he started displaying some children’s books on the ground floor of the Dhaka University Library. At that time, he was working on a project for UNESCO regarding children’s books. In 1970, Jainuddin organised a book fair in Narayanganj in association with Narayanganj Club. As UNESCO declared 1972 the ‘International Book Year’, in December, Jainuddin took initiative to arrange a book fair inside Bangla Academy. Since then, Bangla Academy got directly involved with book fair events. Read More: Bangabandhu Memorial Museum: Witness to History and Tragedy THE JOURNEY OF EKUSHEY BOI MELA Chittaranjan Saha continued putting books on display and selling them at the Bangla Academy premises for a few more years. In 1976, getting inspired by this idea of selling books, other publishers came together and joined in. Bangla Academy merged with this initiative in 1978. Ashraf Siddiqui was the director general of Bangla Academy at that time, and he had an active role in the association of academy with the book fair. Bangla Academy’s association took Boi Mela to another level. In 1979, a book fair was held at the courtyard of Bangla Academy with the collaboration of ‘Bangladesh Pustok Bikreta O Prokashok Samity’ (founded by Chittaranjan Saha) and the Bangla Academy authority. Read More: Top Sculptures in Dhaka City
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) has organised an art camp as part of its Brand Bangladesh initiative, in addition to its core focus to promote the apparel industry. Sixty-two renowned artists, including Monirul Islam, Shahabuddin Ahmed, Hashem Khan, Abul Barq Alvi, Abdus Shakoor Shah, Abdul Mannan, Mohammad Eunus, Jamal Ahmed, Shishir Bhattacharjee, Farida Zaman, Hamiduzzaman Khan, Naima Haque, Rokeya Sultana, Dhali Al Mamoon, Shahid Kabir, Ahmed Shamsuddoha, Hossain Sheikh Afzal, Mohammad Iqbal, Mostafizul Haque, Mostafa Zaman Mithu, Afrozaa Jamil Konka, and Sohana Shahreen joined the "Made in Bangladesh with Pride Art Camp 2023" in Dhaka Sunday. BGMEA President Faruque Hassan inaugurated the camp which was organised by the organisation in collaboration with Arcadia Arts Gallery.
State Minister for Cultural Affairs KM Khalid on Thursday said Jatiya Pitha Utsab (National Rice Cake Festival) is an original and integral concept representing Bengali culture. And festivals like this should be spread all over the country, he added. "We plan to hold this festival at the district level in the future, and the upazila level as well." Read more: Art exhibition, Pitha Utsab held at FSA The state minister was speaking at the opening ceremony of the 10-day Sixteenth Jatiya Pitha Utsab organised by the National Pitha Utsab Udjapan Parishad and Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy (BSA) at the BSA premises in the capital. Liaquat Ali Lucky, director general of the BSA and convener of the 16th National Pitha Utsav Udjapan Parishad 1429, presided over the inauguration ceremony. Dance maestro Amanul Haque was also present. M Hamid, cultural personality and president of the Jatiya Pitha Utsab Udjapan Parishad, joined the event as the main speaker. Read more: Pitha sales surge as winter nears Fifty stalls are showcasing more than 200 pithas (traditional cakes) at the 16th Jatiya Pitha Utsab, and the festival is open to all from 3pm to 9pm till January 28.
The 10th edition of Dhaka Lit Fest, which took place over four days featuring a wide range of the world's top authors, filmmakers, singers, and artists, has been concluded at the Bangla Academy with a reaffirmation of its dedication to promoting Bangladeshi literature, culture, and arts. The festival concluded on Sunday with an enthralling closing ceremony, featuring performances by Coke Studio Bangla artistes Animes Roy, Ritu Raj, Pantha Kanai, Boga Taleb, Momotaz, Rubayat Rehman and its other artistes. With ‘Nasek Nasek’, the debut track of Coke Studio in Bangladesh, the 10th edition of the literary festival bids its adieu. Read more: Episodes of her Gaze: Maksuda Iqbal Nipa's resplendent art collective launched at DLF The formal closing act was conducted at the Abdul Karim Sahitya Bisharad (AKSB) auditorium before that, and it started with a dynamic dance and recital performance by Jatrik named "Women Rise" about women's emancipation. The adversity and persistence against women in the Indian subcontinent were portrayed through the performance of classical and modern dance forms, choreographed by Naila Azad Nupur with recitals by DLF director-producer Sadaf Saaz and Nupur herself. Booker Prize-winning Indian author Gitanjalee Shree, eminent Somalian novelist Nuruddin Farah, Dhaka Tribune editor Zafar Sobhan, City Bank managing director and CEO Mashrur Arefin, and Dhaka Lit Fest director and producer Sadaf Saaz spoke at the closing ceremony, sharing their remarks bidding adieus and expressing their gratitude to everyone.
Bangladesh's initiative to encourage a culture of innovation by instituting the UNESCO-Bangladesh Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman International Award earned plaudits recently, at the UNESCO World Conference on Cultural Policies and Sustainable Development, or Mondiacult 2022, held in Mexico, The final declaration got adopted by the world leaders who agreed to establish an innovation economy, among other things. Organized with the global goal of establishing the role of culture in sustainable development, this international conference was attended by 136 cultural affairs ministers and state minister level leaders, diplomats, cultural activists, organizers and civil society individuals from 150 countries of the world. A delegation of 3 members led by Bangladesh's State Minister for Cultural Affairs KM Khalid, Ambassador of Bangladesh to France and UNESCO Khandaker M Talha and First Secretary Md. Walid bin Kashem participated in the conference. At the conference, Khalid was invited to share his speech at the 'Future of Innovation Economy' Minister-level round table meeting, he thanked UNESCO for formulating the 'UNESCO-Bangladesh Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman International Award' in the innovation economy sector in 2020. “The innovation economy will play a role as a renewable regulator in the implementation of sustainable development goals and will play an effective role in protecting neglected cultural heritage in different parts of the world,” KM Khalid said at the meeting. Read: Bangladesh elected to UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage committee for 4 years He also called for cooperation among international leaders to develop a culture that is safe, accountable, and controlled. A proposal has been made for the teaching of culture in educational institutions as a response to the conference's identification of education and culture as complementary to one another. Additionally, in order to meet the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, all nations are urged to develop cultural policies and update them as needed. In Bangladesh, the National Culture Policy was formulated in 2006 and is currently undergoing modernization. Mondiacult 2022 was organized by UNESCO as a continuation of the detailed action plan conducted globally to implement the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the United Nations in 2015. The last international cultural conference of this scale was held in Mexico in 1982.
President Abdul Hamid on Thursday called for greater practice of culture to end militancy, fundamentalism, violence and hatred from the root level of society. "The more culture is practiced at every level from the village to the city, from the lower class to the upper class, the more enlightened the society will be," he said. "An enlightened society can build a humane society, ensure the desired prosperity and welfare of a country and nation," he added. The president was speaking at Shilpakala Padak (award) distribution function at Bangladesh Shilapakala Academy's National Theater Hall auditorium. He joined the event virtually as the chief guest. Also read: PM Hasina invites US president to visit Bangladesh Hamid said there have been many changes in the society over the time which has also affected "our own culture." "Foreign culture is constantly infiltrating our cultural arena due to satellite..." he said. So the mentality of grabbing everything if it is foreign or attractive must be avoided, he also said. He added " We have to accept whatever is compatible with our culture and tradition. Everything unnecessary, foreign and uncultured should be discarded." The president said that the development of infrastructure and facilities is an important element in the development of indigenous culture but it is not everything. In order to develop culture, we need to make everyone aware of the culture and traditions of our modern age, regardless of caste and religion at the grass root level. Hamid said that initiatives should be taken at the grass root level to develop non-sectarian and liberation war spirited culture. Saying 'the development and tradition of our culture tells us how advanced and modern we are as a nation,' he said youths should be involved in cultural activities to turn them into modern, skilled and cultural minded manpower as culture can play the role of the main weapon against militancy and terrorism. Also read: President congratulates Bangladesh women's team: New SAFF champions "Earlier every family used to practice various cultural activities including music in the morning. But with the development of urban civilization, the wide spread of information technology and the busy schedule of urban life, the practice of culture at the family level is gradually decreasing. Children and youth are ... chasing various apps like Facebook, YouTube, Tik Tok, games etc. Mobiles and laptops are the main entertainment and sports equipment for them. If they continue like this, they will forget their history and heritage one day, " he warned. Hamid added that healthy culture should be developed at individual, family, social and national levels to develop them as healthy and humane citizens. He also put emphasis on the start of practice of culture from the grassroots, especially from the family. Shilpakala Academy director general Liaquat Ali Lucky, on behalf of the President, handed over the prestigious Shilpakala Padak to 20 recipients for the calendar years 2020 and 2019. A total of 18 cultural luminaries and two revered cultural organizations received the award. Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal and Cultural Affairs Secretary Md Abul Monsur spoke as the special guests, while State Minister for Cultural Affairs KM Khalid presided over the ceremony. The 2020 award winning cultural personalities are - Malay Bhowmick (dramatics), Mahmudur Rahman Benu (vocalist), Shahid Kabir (fine arts), Shameem Akhtar (film), Shibli Mohammad (dance), Shah Alam Sarkar (folklore), Shamsur Rahman (instrumental/shehnai), Shafiqul Islam Swapan (photography), Dahlia Ahmed (recitation), and Dinajpur Natya Samity (creative cultural unit). The recipients of 2019 award are - Masud Ali Khan (dramatics), Hasina Momtaz (vocalist), Abdul Mannan (fine arts), Anupam Hayat (film), Lubna Marium (dance), Shamvu Acharaya (folklore), Mohammad Moniruzzaman (instrumental - flute), M A Taher (photography), Hasan Arif (recitation), and cultural institution Chhayanaut (creative cultural unit). Each awardee got a gold medal, a cheque for Tk 1 lakh, and a certificate. The award has been conferred on deserving creative personalities for their continuous contributions in several fields of arts, culture, entertainment and literature since 2013.
Once the most valuable fabric on Earth, Dhaka muslin has now become almost extinct. Centuries on, researchers in Bangladesh have resurrected the forgotten enigmatic fabric after six years of effort -- this time, not in Dhaka but in Cumilla. Once an attire of kings and queens, muslin is a light cotton fabric of plain weave. It got its name from the ancient city of Mosul in Iraq where it was first produced. Read: Recovering Muslin is our great achievement: Textile and Jute minister According to the researchers, at least 30 metric counts of cotton fibre are needed to produce a reeled or handwoven muslin yarn. And the yarn produced in this way is so fine that a muslin saree can pass through a ring. But, somehow muslin became extinct by the end of the 18th century. At present, over 200 women are producing muslin yarn in Sonapur and Rampur villages of Cumilla’s Chandina and Debidwar upazilas under a project monitored by the Bangladesh Handloom Board (BHB). Read Recovering Muslin is our great achievement: Textile and Jute minister
State Minister for Cultural Affairs K M Khalid has said they have been working towards achieving a culturally sustainable Bangladesh and working with different development partners like the British Council and UNESCO. “We truly believe that these international collaborations are the heart of our work for a culturally balanced sustainable Bangladesh,” said Khalid who is representing Bangladesh at the grand cultural exchange at the Scottish Parliament. The British Council has partnered with the sixth Edinburgh International Culture Summit, being held on the occasion of Edinburgh’s 75th anniversary as a “Festival City” at the Scottish Parliament from August 26-28. The State Minister said a “whole-of-society” approach has been adopted to accelerate the SDGs implementation.
The 23rd edition of the Young Artists’ Fine Arts Exhibition, one of the flagship art events of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy (BSA), began on Wednesday at the National Art Gallery of BSA in the capital. The month-long biennale exhibition, organised by BSA’s fine arts department, is showcasing 422 artworks by 356 artists this year. This year’s edition received a total of 2,034 artworks under 11 categories - paintings, sculptures, print and video illustrations, craft-works, pottery crafts, architectural and oriental arts, performance art, photography and new media arts, from a total of 1,019 artists between the age of 21 and 35. Planning Minister MA Mannan inaugurated the exhibition on Wednesday while State Minister for Cultural Affairs KM Khalid, art critic Professor Nazrul Islam and art maestro Dr Farida Zaman joined as special guests and handed over the best artists’ awards to the recipients. BSA's Director General Liaquat Ali Lucky presided over the ceremony, while BSA Director of Fine Arts Syeda Mahbuba Karim and BSA Secretary Md Asaduzzaman also spoke at the event. The participating artists who were nominated as winners of 12 awards in 11 categories and one overall grand award winner in the exhibition, received their respective awards, certificates and prize money cheques at the ceremony. Read: Curtain rises on Shilpo Bangla Art Exhibition Artists Sajia Rahman Sondha received the title award as the best artist of all mediums in the exhibition, while artists Sujon Mahabub (performance art), Samia Ahmed (installation art), Halima Akter (ceramic), Md Fayez Alam Hasan (painting), Sushmita Mukherjee Misty (sculpture), Rumana Rahman (printmaking), Showrab Gosh (oriental art), Mahatab Rashid (graphics design), Rajan Nandi (crafts), Jewel Chakma (new media art), and Shahedul Islam Sadik (photography) won awards in respective categories. A unique and specially curated subject-based art installation is being displayed at the 3rd gallery of the National Art Gallery by 10 educational institutions of the country including Dhaka University, Chittagong University, Rajshahi University, Khulna University, National Poet Kazi Nazrul Islam University and more, which is planned and researched by BSA Director General Lucky. The primary selection committee comprised Professor Pranab Mitra Chowdhury, artist Kamal Pasha Chowdhury, Professor Dr Nihar Ronjon Singha, artist Shayla Sharmin, photographer Ashfaque Ahmed and artist Zihan Karim. The jury board for selecting the best artworks featured Professor Abul Barq Alvi, Dr Farida Zaman, artist Siddhartha Talukder, artist Lala Rukh Selim, artist Ziaul Karim and eminent photographer Nasir Ali Mamun. Since 1975, the biennale exhibition has earned recognition from art-lovers around the whole nation as a festivity and celebration of modern artworks and crafts by artists from all over the country. The exhibition will continue till August 25, every day from 11 pm to 8 pm and 3 pm on 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 number galleries and the sculpture arena at the National Art Gallery.
Over the weekend (Friday, Saturday) the artistic event "Letter to the City" was held at Justice Shahabuddin Ahmed Park's library space in Dhaka's Gulshan-2. Dhaka Memory, an experimental collective of artists and architects, hosted this event, with the support of the German Embassy in Dhaka and the Rotary Club of Dhaka Pathfinders. The two-day event featured different activities including book launching and book reading sessions, puppet show, discussion, letter writing, memory gameplay, drawing sessions, and live music. Friday, the special book "Everyday Stories" was launched at the event. The book is an anthology that comprises stories of the everyday struggles and triumphs of six girls from Dhaka's Karail slum.