Dhaka is 400 years old, celebrations begin

November 27th, 2008 - 11:52 am ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Nov 27 (IANS) Bangladesh Thursday began three-year-long celebrations to mark the establishment of its capital city Dhaka, which will turn 400 years old in 2010.Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed, who performs the prime ministerial functions in the caretaker government, will lead the nation with a programme at the south plaza of the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban (parliament house).

The slogan of the colourful inaugural programme is “Ahen Moji Furtitey” (come and enjoy). Ahmed will release a commemorative postage stamp on the occassion, United News of Bangladesh (UNB) reported.

Different socio-cultural organisations will also organise cultural programmes. Bangladesh Television (BTV) and private TV channels will telecast live the inaugural function, The Daily Star reported.

Come Saturday, there will be a procession with elephants and horses, festival of Dhakaiya food that evolved through the centuries, display of antique cars, children’s painting exhibition, puppet show and boat race.

Historians disagree on when the city of Dhaka was actually founded. The official year is 1610, when it was turned into a capital of the Bengal province by Mughal rulers who once controlled most of what is modern-day India.

Prior to that, Dhaka was part of various Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim kingdoms. There is also dispute on where the name Dhaka, previously spelled Dacca, comes from. The word means “covered” in Bengali. The capital city also has an ancient temple of Hindu goddess Dhakeshwari.

In the latter part of the 17th century, the British East India Company was allowed to establish a trading post in Calcutta (now Kolkata). When it was attacked in 1757, the British fought back, resulting in the fall of the Mughal empire and the transition of power in Bengal to the British. The centre of the region’s power was moved from Dhaka to Calcutta.

In 1947, British India was partitioned into majority Muslim and Hindu sections, with present-day Bangladesh breaking off to become East Bengal, later known as East Pakistan. Dhaka again became the capital of the region.

Later, East Pakistanis fought for their independence from West Pakistan, eventually succeeding in 1971 with help from Indian forces. This resulted in the emergence of Bangladesh, of which Dhaka remains the principal city.

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