Ekushey Book Fair
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The Ekushey Book Fair or Amar Ekushe Grantha Melā (Bengali: অমর একুশে গ্রন্থ মেলা [ɔmɔr ekuʃe grɔnt̪ʰɔ mæla] Lit."Book Fair of immortals of the 21st [of February]"), popularly known as Ekushey Boi Mela (Bengali: একুশে বই মেলা [ekuʃe bɔi mæla]) is the national book fair of Bangladesh. It is arranged each year by Bangla Academy and take place for whole month of February in Dhaka. This event is dedicated to the agitators who died on 21 February 1952 in a demonstration calling for the establishment of Bengali as one of the state languages of former united Pakistan.
Muktodhara Publishing house started a little sale in front of Bangla Academy in the 21 February 1972, the Shaheed Day, later International Mother Language Day. Chittaranjan Saha of Muktodhara took the initiative. Later, other book publishers joined unofficially. Gradually it became official and the most popular book fair of Bangladesh.
Bangla Academy took over organization of the fair in 1978. In 1984 it was named Amar Ekushey Book Fair. Notably, in 1990s, another national book fair called Dhaka Boi Mela was initiated. This book fair is organized by government in February every year.
Although Ekushey Boi Mela started merely as a book fair, it has evolved into a national cultural festival reflecting the cultural spirit of the modern Bengali nation. In addition to book sales, Bangla Academy organizes literary and cultural events every day. Thousands of people gather to purchase books and to spend time in the company of books and their authors with a patriotic zeal. There is no entry fee. Publishers of Bangladesh take year-long preparation to publish a huge number of books during this month. Profit is not the consideration.
In 2008, 362 book stalls were set up by publishers, book sellers and such other organization including Bangla Academy and Nazrul Institute. The venue of the book festival and outside is decorated with banners, festoons and placards in conformity with the spirit of Amar Ekushey. The fair venue is free from smoking and polythene. It is the cultural reunion of Bangladesh where nearly every writing-related person comes. Attracted by discounted price (25%), readers rush there. Given the importance, generally head of government inaugurates the fair on the first day of February. TV stations live broadcast the inaugural ceremony.
Usually, the fair continues from 1 February to the 28th. It is limited only in Bangla Academy's boundary. The Ministry of Culture is in control of the fair while the Academy does the groundwork. Usually the Prime Minister (or the Chief Adviser in case of Caretaker government) inaugurates the fair. Between 300 and 400 publishing houses takes part. Only the Bangladeshi booksellers can join who have at least 25 books of their own.
There is Nazrul Manch, a corner dedicated to poet Kazi Nazrul Islam, a fixed place for month-long cultural meetings, a Lekhok Kunjo, a dedicated place for writers and, a media center for the journalists. Nowadays it became harder to accommodate the huge crowd and the increasing number of publishers. In 2008, the theme of daily conference was 'Bengali Literature and Culture - Achievement of three decades'.
Ekushey Boi Mela 2008
Ekushey Boi Mela 2008 was held from 1 to 29 February 2008. As many as 288 publishers participated. 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.
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