Amar Ekushey Grantha Mela dedicated to the country’s language movement in 1952 has become an integral part of Bengali literary and cultural scenes. The time-honoured book fair has an immense significance in our life as its key focus is Bengali language and traditional culture. The book fair spanning a month has begun at the premises of Bangla Academy and at the adjoining Suhrawardy Udyan in the capital on 2 February. The theme of this year’s fair is the birth centenary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the pioneer of Bangladesh.
The scale of the fair had expanded over time since its journey began in 1972 through a modest initiative of a lone publisher Chittaranjan Saha known by his publishing house Muktadhara. Chittaranjan Saha on 8 February 1972 displayed some 32 books on the premises of Bangla Academy. All 32 books were published by Swadhin Bangla Sahitya Parishad that has been named Muktadhara later. Those books were written by the Bangladeshi refugee authors during 1971 liberation war. Following the 1972 attempt, Bangla Academy took an initiative to sell its books on discount from 15 February to 21 February in 1973 to honour the martyrs who sacrificed their lives protesting in demand of Bangla as the country’s national language. Several other publishing houses like Standard Publishers, Muktadhara and many others joined in the venture.
The Bangla Academy organised the National Literary Conference on 14 February 1974. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman inaugurated the conference at the time. The book fair continued till 1976 that way. Chittaranjan Saha had been a pioneer of the initiatives. The fair was expanded in 1977. Ashraf Siddiqui, the then director general of the Bangla Academy, made Bangla Academy take over the fair in 1978. Bangladesh Book Dealers and Publishers Association involved with the fair in 1979. The founder of this association is also Chittaranjan Saha.
The fair was named Amar Ekushey Grantha Mela in 1983. The then director general Manzur-e-Mawla arranged the fair which was halted because of the political unrest and protests of the students against the autocratic government HM Ershad demanding his resignation. So the Amar Ekushey Grantha Mela formally started its journey in 1984. The fair had been taking place on Bangla Academy premises alone till 2013. Later it expanded to Suhrawardy Udyan.