Dhaka: Thousands of people joined festivities in Bangladesh as the Bengali New Year was welcomed with traditional fervour and gaiety amid tight security. The country celebrated the 'Pahela Baishakh' festival welcoming the year 1419 of the Bangla calendar with colourful celebrations.

Dozens of cultural groups ushered in the first day of the Bangla year with songs and cultural performances at different city parks here as plainclothes policemen and elite anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) men stood guard along with sniffing dogs.

In 2001, militants of Harkaul Jihadi Islami (HuJI) carried out a bomb attack targeting New Year revellers, killing 10 people and turning the festival into tragedy.

Ever since authorities have enforced extra security vigil during the festival. Men in traditional Punjabi and women in white and red saris joined the celebrations along with children in colourful attires, streaming through the capital's streets since dawn.

Central Dhaka's Ramna Batamul appeared the main attraction of the New Year revellers as traditional cultural functions were staged since morning.

The Pahela Baishakh celebrations started during Mughal Emperor Akbar's reign in the country that comprises nearly 99 percent of Bangla speaking population.

According to traditional practices particularly in rural Bangladesh, it is still customary to clear all dues on the last day of the Bengali month of Chaitra. Businessmen then open "halkhata" or new books of account in their shops on Pahela Baishakh.

In line with tradition, people in rural Bangladesh thoroughly scrub and clean their homes, bathing early in the morning and dressing up in fine clothes.

The banned HuJI carried out an attack on festivities in 2001 calling the festival "un-Islamic".

Officials said most of the suspects were now in jail as the trial of the carnage is underway at a court. The victims of the blasts still await the verdict of the trial.

"Five of the 14 accused are on the run and one on bail while the rest are in jail to face the trial in person," public prosecutor of Dhaka Metropolitan Mohammad Abdullah Abu said.