Tens of thousands of Bangladeshis gathered in parks and other open spaces Monday to herald in Bengali New Year with traditional concerts, fairs and foods.Men, women and children _ most dressed in white and red _ also joined colorful parades to celebrate "Pahela Baishakh," the first day of the new Bengali year 1415.
Parts of downtown Dhaka, the national capital, were closed to traffic, while extra police were deployed at celebration venues.
Police used metal detectors to check revelers at the popular Ramna Park, where 11 people were killed in a bomb attack during celebrations in 2001. No one has been tried for that attack, but authorities have blamed it on Muslim extremists who oppose public entertainment.
The Bengali calendar _ based on a harvest cycle _ was adopted in the 16th century by the region's Mogul rulers to facilitate tax collection.
The calendar is still widely used in villages and among merchants, who settle old accounts and open new ledgers on the first day of the Bengali year.
In West Bengal too Bengali New Year was celebrated with joy and enthusiasm. Devotees went to the temple and the new ledger book was opened in business enterprises.