Fireworks kick-off Mujib Year celebrations at Suhrawardy Udyan

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Nation to mark Bangabandhu’s 100th birth anniversary through various programs until March 26 next year

The year-long countrywide celebrations marking the birth centenary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman started on Tuesday in a befitting manner with the nation paying utmost respect to the Father of the Nation.

President Md Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina led the nation into the “Mujib Borsho,” or Mujib Year, which will be observed from Tuesday until March 26, 2021. 

The main event of day — a scaled down version because of the coronavirus outbreak in the country — was, however, a stunning fireworks display at the Suhrawardy Udyan at 8pm, marking the moment of Bangabandhu’s birth on March 17, 1920 in Tungipara of Gopalganj.

That was immediately followed by nationwide broadcast of the president and the prime minister’s addresses. A recorded poem recited by Bangabandhu’s eldest daughter Hasina, and written by her sister Sheikh Rehana, was also part of the televised event.

The program, styled “Muktir Mohanayok,” or The Great Hero of Freedom, concluded with a pixel-laser show and was broadcast live from the south plaza of the National Parliament complex.

Other than the Suhrawardy Udyan event, Awami League had also organized fireworks display in front of its central office on Bangabandhu Avenue and at Dhanmondi Road No 32 at 8pm.

Fireworks display at Sangsad Bhaban marking the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman | Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

The Mujib Year inaugural ceremony was broadcast on television channels and online and social media platforms, to help the people enjoy it from home by avoiding mass gatherings because of the coronavirus situation.

As it happens every year, March 17 was observed as a public holiday and also as the National Children’s Day.

The countdown for the celebration’s opening had started on January 10, coinciding with Bangabandhu’s homecoming in 1972 from a Pakistan jail after the 1971 Liberation War.

Under the supervision of Unesco, birth centenary programs will also be held around the world. Through that, the history of Bangabandhu’s long struggle and his great sacrifice for Bangladesh and its people will be projected before the world.

Eternal source of inspiration

In his national address on Mujib Year on Tuesday, President Hamid said Bangabandhu’s ideals would help the new generation contribute to nation-building tasks.

“Bangabandhu is not amidst us… but his ideals are our eternal source of inspiration,” he said, and noted that the architect of Bangladesh’s independence was the symbol of the principle and ideology.

These principles and ideals should be spread from generation to generation and the young generation would be courageous and dedicated, Hamid hoped.

He said Mujib Year’s pledge should be to continue united efforts, being imbued with the spirit of the Liberation War, to complete the unfinished tasks of Bangabandhu and turn the country into a “Sonar Bangla.”

Fireworks display at Suhrawardy Udyan kicks off the yearlong celebrations marking the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman | Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

In her speech, Prime Minister Hasina called upon the new generation to build themselves as worthy citizens by following Bangabandhu’s ideology, saying the people will stay awake with his ideology and uphold the flag given by him forever.

“You [father] are lying near the lap of your parents under the green-covered ground in Tungipara. Father, sleep in peace… your Bangladesh is marching towards advancement at an indomitable pace and will go ahead further,” she said.

The premier also reiterated her firm commitment to build the “Sonar Bangla” as dreamt by Bangabandhu. “…those days are not far away,” she said.

Meanwhile, her sister Sheikh Rehana in a message also urged all: “Today is the birth centenary of our dearest and the greatest Bangali of all time. Let’s take a pledge together on this day that we’ll bring smiles on the faces of the distressed people through whatever we have.”

She said: “Let’s take a vow to build a beautiful and prosperous country free from poverty, corruption and illiteracy. We’ll love Sonar Bangla and refrain from envy.”

The youngest daughter of Bangabandhu added: “We will spread the light of Bangabandhu by building fortress of his ideals at every house. No one can suppress us.”

Utmost respect

Earlier in the day, President Hamid and Prime Minister Hasina had led the nation in paying rich tributes to Bangabandhu on his 100th birthday, by placing wreaths at his mausoleum in Tungipara, Gopalganj.

A smartly turned out contingent drawn from the army, navy and air force gave an honour guard on the occasion, while the two leaders stood in solemn silence for some time.

Then they also offered Fateha and joined a munajat seeking eternal peace of the departed souls of Bangabandhu and the other martyrs of the August 15, 1975 carnage.

Rehana, Hasina’s daughter Saima Wazed Hossain, Rehana’s son Radwan Mujib Siddiq Bobby and his wife Peppi Siddiq were also present at that time.

Fireworks display at Suhrawardy Udyan kicks off the yearlong celebrations marking the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman | Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

Hasina and senior leaders of ruling Awami League placed another wreath at Bangabandhu’s grave afterwards.

Helicopters staged an acrobatic show spreading red and green colours on the mausoleum of Bangabandhu. The helicopters carrying national flag and placards with Mujib Year logo flew over the mazar for some time.

Earlier in the morning, the prime minister, alongside Rehana and Saima, had placed a wreath at her father’s portrait in front of Bangabandhu Memorial Museum on Dhanmondi Road No 32 in the capital.

Cabinet members, speaker, chief justice, prime minister’s advisers, MPs, senior leaders of Awami League and its affiliated organizations, government officials, and other concerned officials and sociocultural organizations also paid respect to Bangabandhu afterwards.

Although the government had earlier planned large-scale events to mark the Mujib Year, they later scaled down the inauguration fanfare by revising the schedule in light of the coronavirus outbreak here and around the world.

Most of the programs were rearranged for indoors to avoid public gatherings. The original plan for the grand Mujib Year inaugural ceremony on March 17 at the National Parade Ground in Dhaka was also postponed.

A number of heads of government of different countries were invited to join the March 17 ceremony. However, they will be invited again when a fresh schedule is finalized, said officials, adding that other programs would continue throughout the year on a small scale.

Different socio-cultural and political organizations from the grassroots to national levels, ministries and divisions have also drawn up programs for Bangabandhu’s birth centenary celebrations.

Fireworks display at Suhrawardy Udyan kicks off the yearlong celebrations marking the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman | Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

Special prayers were offered at religious institutions while scaled dwon celebrations were also reported from across the country.

Meanwhile, British High Commissioner to Bangladesh Robert Chatterton Dickson said he is pleased to join Bangladeshi friends celebrating Bangabandhu’s 100th birthday.

“Relationship between UK and Bangladesh has been strong and close since 1971,” he said in a tweet posted on the occasion.

Greetings from abroad

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid tributes to Bangabandhu online on Tuesday.

In a tweet, he said that “Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is remembered for his courage and indelible contribution to Bangladesh’s progress.”

He also addressed Bangabandhu’s 100th birth anniversary celebrations through a video message in the evening.

Bhutanese Prime Minister Lotay Tshering and Chief Minister of Indian State of Tripura Biplab Kumar Deb called over the phone and greeted Prime Minister Hasina and the people of Bangladesh on the occasion of Bangabandhu’s birth centenary, according to her press secretary.

Nepalese President Bidhya Devi Bhandari, UN Secretary-General António Guterres and OIC Secretary General Yousef Al Othaimeen also sent their greetings through audio-visual messages. 

Celebrations outside Bangladesh

Meanwhile, Bangladeshi embassies, high commissions and consulates general abroad also launched the celebrations for Mujib Year on Tuesday.

All the missions in six continents have organized various programs to observe the day in a befitting manner, according to messages received from the Bangladeshi diplomatic representations across the world.

The day began with the heads of the missions hoisting national flag and placing floral wreath at the portrait of Bangabandhu.