Amar Ekushey Boi Mela: An essence of Bengali excellence
DOT Desk: Although there are varying opinions about the Ekushey Boi Mela organised by Bangla Academy, the book fair is unique in terms of taste, excellence and sophistication. It has become a symbol for Bengali thinking—a fertile ground for collective creation, reports The Daily Star.
The books in Boi Mela come in many styles and formats and it is almost impossible to gauge the scope and subject matter of the books coming to the fair. It is difficult to imagine the growth of the Boi Mela, which only started with 32 books back in 1972. The sheer size of the book fair testifies that the nation has progressed well in the practice of knowledge. Our progress cannot be captured in the rhetoric of infrastructure development alone. We need to examine how a small effort in the 60s turned into an important platform in the practice of intelligence. According to a news report published by The Daily Star on March 18, 2022, 69 poetry books, 501 novels and 467 story books were published in Amar Ekushey Boi Mela last year. According to a report published by Bangladesh News Agency yesterday Bangla Academy has allocated a total of 573 institutions and a total of 704 stalls (excluding pavilions) for the 2023 Amar Ekushey Book Fair. Every year, its magnitude increases—in terms of the number of books, readers, and buyers.
Few large platforms for the collective intellectual expression of a nation exist around the globe. Compared to book fairs in Frankfurt, London, Paris, New York or Calcutta, Amar Ekushey Boi Mela stands out with unique features. It is a subtle union of three different aspects. The first aspect is the awareness of the Bangla language. Given that the month of February is associated with the language movement, in which we shed blood for our language, there is a mythological and symbiotic relationship between the Boi Mela and the language. This relationship has helped strengthen the ideas which we consider alongside the Language Movement.
This celebration of the Language Movement which happens in the Boi Mela allows the ideas associated with it to be passed down from one generation to another. Boi Mela has become a focal point for the discussions surrounding the Language Movement.
The fair’s breadth has increased over time. Since 2014, a large portion of it has been moved to Suhrawardy Udyan, thereby expanding the roots of the tradition.