Preparations afoot for vibrant ‘Mangal Shobhajatra’

Preparations are going on in full swing at Dhaka University’s Institute of Fine Arts for the colorful and vibrant procession of Mangal Shobhajatra, a significant part of the Pahela Baishakh celebrations.

Every year, on April 14 (Bengali New Year), students of the Fine Art Faculty of Dhaka University bring out the ‘Mangal Shobhajatra’, which got the recognition from Unesco as an intangible cultural heritage in 2016.

“Most of the structural work for the motifs has already been completed. The rest of the work will be done within the due time as our students, teachers, volunteers and workers are working relentlessly from dawn to dusk to make it a success,” Member secretary of Pahela Baishakh celebration committee Professor Nisar Hossain told BSS.

While visiting the fine art premises today, the students of the faculty were seen busy selling and creating artworks, crafts, masks and sora for Pahela Baishakh, as well as to raise funds for the arrangements.

Keeping the Mangal Shobhajatra free of corporate sponsorship, teachers, students, and alumni of the faculty raise funds by creating and selling their artworks, crafts, masks, and sora.

Besides this, volunteers and workers, led by the 24th batch of the faculty with the participation of both current and former students of the faculty, were seen making structures with bamboo and wood and placing papers on the already prepared structures.

Nisar Hossain, also dean of the Fine Arts Faculty, said the procession will uphold the country’s folklore, culture and heritage while important motifs of 33 years of the Mangal Sovajatra celebration of the faculty will comprise the procession.

Wishing peace in peace on earth, a line from Rabindranath Tagore’s poem ‘Borisho Dhora-Majhe Shantir Bari’ has been set as the theme of this year’s Mangal Shobhajatra, said Nisar Hossain.

“Every year we set the theme, considering the contemporary context and scenario of Bangladesh as well as the globe”, Nisar said, adding, “Currently there are some conflicting issues including the Russia-Ukraine war and instability in different places making the global economy vulnerable”.

“So, we wish to see a peaceful socio-economic and political environment on the globe,” he added.

There will be six four large motifs – Mother with her child, Tiger, peacock, elephant, sheep and Nill Gai-in the procession along with some large motif masks and chorki (wheelbarrow), which will be displayed during the procession, said Shimul Kumbkar, one of the organizers and also a student of sculpture.

Owls, birds, hand fans, colorful masks, and other items that are also part of Bangladeshi folk art will also be displayed in the procession, he said, adding, “More than a hundred motif masks will be visible in the procession”.

This well-decorated carnival with colourful larger-than-life banners and animal replicas has been an integral part of Bangladeshi culture since 1989 and became a signature event that represents folk motifs of the country’s traditions.

This year, the Shobhajatra, led by the DU Vice Chancellor, will be brought out at 9:00am on the day from the Fine Arts Faculty and end on the same premises via Shahbagh intersection in the capital.

On March 19, famous artist Rafiqun Nabi, who painted an artwork to mark the beginning of the proceedings, inaugurated the preparation work.

No one will be allowed to wear or carry any kind of mask except the masks made by the Fine Arts Faculty on campus on that day, said a university press release.

No organization or institution will be allowed to continue their program after 5pm on the day, while no individual will be allowed to enter the campus after 5pm.

Besides, private transport without carrying the stickers of the university will not be allowed inside the campus from 7pm on April 13 considering the security issues.