THE annual Ekushey Boi Mela attracted over 20,000 visitors this year during a month long celebration of Bangladeshi literature in Dhaka.
The grand ceremony attracted book enthusiasts from all over Bangladesh as book lovers a considerable number of titles on a wide range of subjects available at the market.
Discussions by eminent personalities have also become an added attraction with the presence of numerous writers and poets.
Said writer Syed Abul Maksud: “The typical idea that book fairs are associated only with ‘serious-minded persons’ no longer holds good for this year’s fair as large number of young people and children keep flocking and buying the titles.
“If five per cent of the visitors buy books, it would do a lot to build the nation.”
The Bangla Academy organised a discussion on ‘literary translations in Bangladesh: creativity and originality’. Abdullah Al Mamun presented the keynote paper.
This year as many as 288 publishers participated in the fair. A record number of books were published on the occasion. According to official statistics, the number of books published in connection with the book fair was 2578. The sale proceeds from books sold shot up to a record of Taka 200 million.
Boi Mela info box
The Ekushey Book Fair or Omor Ekushey Grontho is the national book fair of Bangladesh and takes place over whole month of February each year. It is dedicated to the agitators who died on 21st February 1952 in a demonstration calling for the establishment of Bangla as one of the state languages of former united Pakistan.
The fair was originally started by Muktodhara Publishing house as a stall in front of the Bangla Academy on Shaheed day. Each year other book publishers joined them and gradually it grew into a large fair and became one of the most popular book fairs of Bangladesh.
The Bangla Academy took over the organisation of the fair in 1978.
It has now evolved into a national cultural festival reflecting the cultural spirit of the modern Bengali nation. In addition to book sales, the Academy organises literary and cultural events everyday. Thousands of people gather not only to purchase books but also to spend time in the company of the authors. There is no entry fee.
Publishers in the country take year-long preparation to publish a huge number of books during this month.