The skyline of the capital Dhaka and rest of the country were illuminated with grand fireworks as Bangladesh kicked off the Mujib Year celebrations marking the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
“His ideals are our eternal source of inspiration,” President Abdul Hamid said opening the centenary celebrations in a nationwide televised speech as the country witnessed the illuminated skylines with the staging of the main fireworks at the historic Suhrawardy Udyan.
In an emotion-choked recorded televised statement followed by the President, Prime Minster Sheikh Hasina said the nation would stay awake forever with its founder’s ideology and uphold the flag given by him.
“Father, sleep in peace . . . your Bangladesh is marching towards advancement at an indomitable pace and will go ahead further,” said Sheikh Hasina, who is Bangabandhu’s elder daughter as well.
Despite the scaled down festivity revising the original celebration opening plans in view of the global coronavirus pandemic, the capital Dhaka appeared jubilant with sounds of fireworks and illumination at 8 pm, the birth moment of Bangabandhu 100 years ago.
Nepal’s President Bidhya Devi Bhandari, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Bhutanese Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Secretary General Yousef bin Ahmad Al-Othaimeen were foreign dignitaries who in their own voice greeted Bangladesh.
The state-run BTV and private TV channels broadcast their speeches while mainstream newspapers carried online special editions with emotional headlines, one of those saying “Bangabandhu has no death, only birthdays”.
Another newspaper wrote “His (Bangabandhu’s) public life started as a schoolboy. And it never stopped till his last breath when he, along with all members of his immediate family, save the two daughters, Hasina and Rehana, were brutally murdered on 15th August 1975”.
Bangabandhu’s younger daughter Sheikh Rehana took part in a nationwide function broadcast by all TV channels with a theme song titled “Tumi Banglar Dhrubotara” or ‘you Bengal’s polestar’, when country’s 100 leading signers gave their voice.
Sheikh Rehana also gave a brief statement which was followed by recitation of a poem titled “Baba” by Sheikh Hasina, written by her younger sister.
The TV channels broadcast live the two-hour-long “Muktir Mohanayak” programme when 100 children attired in colourful dresses took part in chorus in another song “Dhanya Mujib Dhanya”.
Leading artistes performed songs and dances mostly in the backdrop of the songs by the nation’s two major poets Rabindranath Tagore and Kazi Nazrul Islam.
The programme included as well exclusive performance of renowned musical instrument players and recitation of poems by famous poets.