WE celebrate Pahela Baishakh or the Bangla New Year's Day today. Everything under the sun looks gay and cheerful and colourful, one is suddenly struck by the beauty of the grass, the sky, the trees - each and everything around looks pretty and radiates joy and happiness. It seems that the tired and weary sun of 1405 that set last evening carried along with it all the gloom, all the sorrows, all the melancholy and misery. Nothing that is painful or dull or dreary is left for 1406, and the sun rising with a new spirit and vigour this morning, rises in its full glory, radiating nothing gloomy, nothing sad, nothing pensive but only hope and happiness for the days to come.
Pahela Baishakh is indeed a momentous occasion in the life of each and every Bengalee. It is the first day of Bangla calendar year. To every Bengalee, young and old, rich and poor, wise and ignorant, it is a time of gaiety to be celebrated with great merry-making, to be enjoyed in every possible manner, an occasion which enables us, in the words of Tennyson, to drink life to the lees.' It is a cruel irony of fate that a few orthodox Muslims in our country, shrouded by sheer ignorance, look down upon this Nababarsha festival, simply because they inadvertently consider it to be a festival of non-Muslim origin. But there is no shadow of doubt that the Bangla calendar that we follow today was introduced by the Muslims in this sub-continent.
The calendar so introduced was originally known as Tarikh-e-Elahi and it was introduced on the 10th or the 11th March in the 29th year of Akbar's reign i.e. in 1585 A. D. It , however, dates from the day of Akbar's ascension to the throne of Delhi and commemorates his coronation as the Emperor of India in 1556. The Second Battle of Panipath and the Coronation of Akbar as the Emperor of India are indeed great events in the annals of history. The Moguls had nearly lost the throne of Delhi for good. Akbar was not even an adult when the life of Humayun was suddenly cut short on the stairs of his own library.