The month-long Amar Ekushey Grantha Mela drew a significant amount of crowd on Friday, the first holiday of the month, with the inauguration of “Shishu Prohor” (hours dedicated to children) amid mismanagement on the part of organisers.
Thousands of people of all ages, particularly the youth and children, flocked to different stalls and pavilions to find books by their favourite authors. After dusk, the whole fair venue adjacent to the Swadhinata Stambha area got a festive look with the presence of readers.
Shishu Chattar of the fair venue was abuzz with children since morning though the Shishu Prohor opened at 11am and lasted till 1pm.
With the arrangement of the popular TV series Sisimpur, eminent poet and Bangla Academy Director General Mohammad Nurul Huda inaugurated Sisimpur Stage.
He said this time Bangla Academy kept the slogan of the book fair – Read Book Build Country: Bangabandhu’s Bangladesh.
“We want to build Bangabandhu’s Sonar Bangla by reading books. At the same time, we want our children to be good global citizens. Long live Bangladesh and creativity!” he said.
When the popular TV series Sisimpur’s characters – Tuktuki, Halum, Ikri and Shiku – appeared on the stage following the inauguration of Shishu Chattar, the children’s excitement grew. They danced and took pictures with their favourite characters.
Tuktuki asked everyone to read books, Ikri called to ask questions, and Halum shared his story of eating fish while Shiku talked about the discovery of new things.
Guardians took children to different stalls and helped them play various games and buy books.
Mahbubul Haque, a private company employee, came to visit the book fair with his daughter on Friday and bought several books for his eight-year-old girl Sejuti Haque.
Sejuti said she took books on horror and detective stories and would buy science fiction novels as well.
However, the book fair was yet to get an organised look even on the second day of the fair. Construction and decoration work of many stalls and pavilions was not completed. Many publishers were still busy bringing their books to their stalls.
Khurshid Anwar Jasim, the publisher of Palash Prakashani, said the late handover of stalls by Bangla Academy caused the mismanagement. He said one more day is required to decorate the stall.
He also said that this year readers have visited the fair from the very first day and the business is good.
Bangla Academy has failed to ensure a proper environment for visitors as many of them complained of the extremely dusty environment while talking to the Daily Sun.
For example, Shuborna Saha, a visitor, said, “All the walkways are not prepared yet. The use of sand in building walkways through the fairground contributed to the dusty environment. The oversight of the Bangla Academy officials on the issue is frustrating.”
There was no visible move from the academy to sprinkle water on the ground or take any other step to control dust.
Asked about different complaints of the visitors, Member Secretary of Amar Ekushey Book Fair Committee Dr KM Mujahidul Islam said the appropriate atmosphere of the fair will return in a day or two.
“If any publishing house violates discipline, they will be blacklisted. We want to present a very beautiful and organised book fair to the readers. We will do whatever we need to do for that,” he added.
A discussion programme titled “Mahakobi Alaol” was held at the main stage of the fair at 4pm on the Bangla Academy premises. Simon Zakaria presented the keynote paper at the event with Md Abul Kashem Qutub in the chair. Milton Biswas and Mohammad Sheikh Sadi were the discussants there.
Later, poets Rubi Rahman, Asad Mannan, and Mahbub Sadik recited self-composed poems. Besides, Laila Afroz, Mustafa Walid and Majumder Biplob and Bangabandhu Abritti Parishad recited poems while Timir Nandi, Mohiuzzaman Chowdhury, Priyanka Gope, Julie Sharmili, Manik Rahman and Bangladesh Lokosangeet Parishad performed songs.
According to Bangla Academy, 31 new books hit the stalls on the second day of the fair.
Saturday, the third day of the book fair, there will be a discussion programme titled “Tribute on the Bicentennial of Birth: Michael Madhusudan Dutt” where Rafiqullah Khan will present the keynote paper and Khasru Parvez and Hosne Ara will be discussants.
Bangla Academy Director General Mohammad Nurul Huda will preside over the discussion.