Mongol Shovajatra is a traditional event – a procession mainly, held on the morning of Bangla New Year. The rally known for its vivid, exotic art installations, is primarily organized by students of Charukola – The Art Institute of the University of Dhaka.
Pahela Baishakh, or the Bangla New Year is held on 14th April each year. The creative force behind this important traditional event starts preparing for the procession days ahead. Important, because in brief it symbolizes secularism of our culture, secularism which is a major factor to our nation’s unity. In a state long suffered from ensuring the rights of minority because of the onslaught of religious fundamentalism, this powerful event which promotes secularism called Mongol Shovajatra attended by thousands somehow reestablishes the fact that there is still an event where any people can walk – a point where all Bangladeshis are one. You don’t necessarily have to be a Muslim or a Hindu or a Christian. Subsequently and quite naturally, the event is criticized or otherwise plainly neglected by people who leans to the right side of our political spectrum, having a mixed cultural view in terms of both Religion and Nationality.
It was my first time at Mongol Shovajatra and it was amazing, it always is. The colorful masks, festoons take you the days of the kings and queens, the hard working farmers from a thousand years, the things that we used everyday but have been replaced now with things that is not quite our own. The procession is supported by the massive fair of Pahela Baishakh around the Dhaka University campus area, which brings back elements of our Bangla culture we seemingly thought to have forgotten to care amid borrowed elements from neighbors and as the result of having past invaders to Bangla.