Special Feature

Anti-hilsa campaign worked well; the same against Brinjal coming

16 Apr,2016


BdChronicle Special:

The nation celebrated Pahela Baishakh on Thursday with much enthusiasm, but unlike the previous years there was a huge campaign against the invented must-have-hilsa culture, particularly by the social media. And it worked well, reports UNB.

In contrast to the past years, many urban families left hilsa out of their Pahela Baishakh’s breakfast menu. Their boycott plan got the momentum when the Prime Minister’s Office on April 12, two days before the Baishakh celebrations, revealed that there was no hilsa on Sheikh Hasina’s Pahela Baishakh menu, aiming to save the delicious national fish during its breeding season.

“I joined my relatives at a family programme at lunch on Thursday. There were a good number of items on their menu, except hilsa…I liked it, I liked it very much as I was expecting people to boycott hilsa on this particular day…The social media campaign has worked well, I think,” said Arifujjaman Amiree who works in a private firm.

He said another point that attracted him most was the peaceful celebrations of the day.

There were ‘Dos and Don’ts’ ahead of Pahela Baishakh this time to keep the celebrations peaceful. There were fears among many, too. But at the end of the day, it has been proved that celebrations are in Bangalees' DNA. People from all walks of life celebrated the Bangla year 1423 overcoming all fears, and most importantly very peacefully, thanks both to the revelers and law enforcement agencies.

It was only constable Ruhul Amin who was at fault for his misconduct with a female student of Dhaka University at Shahbagh in the capital. He, however, apologised for his indecent behaviour as he shoved the female student and hurled abusive words at her when he was clearing road for the car of his boss.

The city saw huge enthusiasm among the celebrators of all ages despite a ban on outdoor programmes in the evening citing security concerns.

“Humanity, in praise of people, equality and equal rights – with these messages we celebrated Pahela Baishakh on Thursday,” said Prime Minister’s Political Affairs Adviser HT Imam on Friday.

He said he was so happy to see much enthusiasm among all people. Referring to all the events that took place marking the first day of Baishakh and all the statements made by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and others carried the same message – humanity and everyone has the equal rights.

Many foreigners, living in Bangladesh, became part of the celebrations as they joined the revelers without any fear. Even many Bangladeshi expatriates came home to celebrate the day with their friends and families.

Bangladeshi expatriates also celebrated the first day of the Bangla New Year abroad with much enthusiasm, as Facebook posts flooded with colourful photos giving evidence.

Over the past years, the country saw fried hilsa and panta (rice soaked in water) emerged as the most popular food items among the Bangalees on Pahela Baishakh, taking it beyond the buying capacity of the commoners.

One thing that hugely dominated the Facebook this time before Pahela Baishakh was the campaign against the must-take hilsa. It played the magic. Following the Facebook campaign, mainly ran by the youngsters, senior citizens, including cultural personalities, university teachers and columnists, kept writing well ahead of Pahela Baishakh describing that there is no link between Baishakh celebrations and having hilsa. All searched well the root, even to know how unnecessarily hilsa became part of the Baishakh celebrations.

It seemed that the entire country stood against the practice of having hilsa during Baishakh celebrations.

Many say it cannot yet be claimed that all boycotted hilsa this time, but it is true that many joined the campaign trial. Many supported the idea sharing the news on Facebook, though there were people too who stuck to their guns to take hilsa.

For example, a youth - Thouhid Ahamed – wrote, “Panta isn't only the meal of the poor. It’s also the traditional meal because rice is produced here in plenty. I also like to eat panta with fried fish or beef, it’s awesome.”

Sharmin Akhter who boycotted hilsa with her entire family said: “Better late than never. The campaign helped people realise whether having hilsa is necessary or not while celebrating Baishakh. I am sure many like me boycotted hilsa this time.”

It cannot be calculated right now the sales volume of hilsa ahead of Pahela Baishakh. But it can be said there has been a significant drop. Now the holy month of Ramadan is knocking the door, with many saying that a similar campaign is needed against having brinjal which turns expensive ahead of every Ramadan. Many have already started talking about brinjal debating whether it has any linked with Ramadan.

Terming PM’s public declaration on hilsa a positive one, renowned businessman SM Abu Tayyab wrote on his Facebook wall, “Our meaningless attempt encourages opportunists’ unethical works. We have heard of price fall of Hilsa after Prime Minister’s declaration.”

Tayyab, also President of Chittagong chapter of International Business Forum of Bangladesh (IBFB), wrote, “Let’s take preparation to declare to boycott ‘beguni’ (foodstuff made of brinjal) jointly ahead of holy month of Ramadan.”

Explaining his stance, the businessman said if the price is higher than regular price all should boycott ‘Beguni’.

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