"Saraswati Puja" (adoration of the Hindu goddess Saraswati), one of the main religious festivals in the calendar of the Hindu community, was celebrated throughout Bangladesh on 30 January with due solemnity, enthusiasm and zeal. As in the past, it took on a festive look that cut across religious and gender divides in Bangladesh.

This puja is celebrated every year on the fifth day of the spring during the bright fortnight of the month of Magh when the goddess of music, art, wisdom and learning "Saraswati" was believed to have been born according to the Hindu sacred scripture Rigveda. The day is called 'Vasant Panchami'.

Hindu devotees, especially students, organised the 'puja' at different educational institutions and temples across the country. In the capital, 'Saraswati Puja' was staged at different important places, leading educational, professional institutions and Hindu shrines. Home Minster Asaduzzaman Khan visited puja mandaps at Rajdhani High School in Manik Mia Avenue in the capital where he stressed the need to further cement the bond of fraternity and understanding that exists among different faiths practised in Bangladesh.

One of the most decorative and gorgeous celebrations of Saraswati Puja took place in the premises of Dhaka University's Jagannath Hall where a large number of devotees and crowd thronged to perform and witness in rapture the religious rituals as they unfolded. The visitors later stepped into the pandals circling the playground of the university's dormitory to get a glimpse of the colourful bright idols of the deity on display. On the Dhaka University campus, the puja was organised at all female dormitories -- Rokeya Hall, Samsun Nahar Hall, Bangladesh Kuwait Moitri Hall, Begum Fazilatunnesa Mujib Hall and Kabi Sufia Kamal Hall. Pujas were also offered at Ram Krishna Mission, Jagannath University, Siddheswari Temple, Bangladesh Supreme Court premises, Farashganj, Shakhari Bazar, Tanti Bazar and different other places in both old and new parts of the Dhaka city and around.

The Jahangirnagar University Central Puja Udjapan Committee also observed Saraswati Puja on their campus. Likewise in the Rajshahi University, puja was solemnised at different halls as well as in the city's central temple. As many as 22 puja mandaps were decorated on different university campuses alone this year.

On January 18, the Bangladesh Election Commission decided to defer elections to both Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) and Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) from January 30 to February 1 as the elections coincided with Saraswati Puja.

As per the past practice ICAB (Institute of Chartered Accountants Bangladesh) Puja Udjapan Parishad celebrated Saraswati Puja-2020 on 30 January at its academic campus in Kawran Bazar, Dhaka, with deep reverence and much fanfare. The event was unveiled with prayer chanted by devotees in the morning. In the evening session ICAB president Muhammad Farooq FCA, and president ICAB Puja Udjapan Committee and additional secretary, Financial Institutions Division, Ministry of Finance, GOB Ajit Kumar Paul FCA, inaugurated the souvenir titled 'Mahasweta' to mark the occasion. Present at the ceremony among other senior members of the profession were vice presidents ICAB Sidhartha Barua FCA and Mohammed Forkan Uddin FCA, councilors Gopal Chandra Gosh FCA and Maria Howlader FCA, past president Anil Chandra Nath, FCA, president, DRC Ziaur Rahman Zia FCA, UNB chairman and co-chairman, Editorial Board, ICAB Amanullah Khan FCA, secretary of the Puja Parishad Ramendra Nath Basak FCA, and secretary and CEO-ICAB Maj Gen. Muhammad Imrul Quayes, ndc, psc (retd).

In his address ICAB president expressed the hope that Saraswati Puja would prove to be instrumental in inspiring the students of the Institute to pursue their study and learning diligently to enable them to take up the future leadership of the profession. The programme was followed by an enthralling cultural show.

Home to about 10% Hindus, 1% Bhuddhists, Christians and followers of other religions combined, including the majority 89% Muslims with a total population of over 162 million, Bangladesh is a shinning example of cultural and ethniparts of thesity, pluralism and communal harmony in the region.

(Reprinted with editings - Executive Editor)

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