Michelle and I observed the advent of the Bengali New Year by setting up a BRAC stall at Club Bangla’s take on the traditional Boishakhi Mela – Bengali New Year’s Fair – this Sunday. A group comprised of Columbia University and Barnard College students, Club Bangla’s objective is to take major steps in increasing awareness on campus about the language and culture of Bengal at Columbia. There couldn’t be a better way to accomplish that goal than to celebrate the Bengali New Year festivities right in the middle of campus.
Located on the plaza in front of the steps of the magnificent Low Memorial Library, Bengali culture took center stage on Sunday, April 12th. The day’s events began with a speech – “What is Boishaki?” – and was followed by a diverse array of performances:
ranging from the traditional Bengali folk music of Oikatan…
…to the contemporary Bengali alternative rock band ‘Still Waters’…
…to the recent hip-hop sensation ‘Stoic Bliss’, whose Benglish rap debut album sold over 250,000 copies.
In addition to all the performances, a good number of the crowd were no doubt attracted by the delicious samosas, shingaras, and chatpati on sale right next to the BRAC stall…
It was a memorable and enjoyable afternoon. It certainly flattered our egos that a few non-Bangladeshi passers-by stopped in front of our stall to remark “Oh, look, it’s BRAC!” People flipped through our annual report, took a look at Shaatrong – our monthly magazine for BRAC primary school students – and picked up flyers for Freedom From Want
, the new book that tells the story of BRAC’s evolution from a small relief organization in Bangladesh to the international NGO it is today.
Here are some other photos of the fair:
It was fun to talk with the people there, and to engage with the Bangladeshi community in New York. We look forward to many more of these events in the future.
A special nod to the members of Club Bangla who made it all happen.