The Bengali community in Toronto celebrated the new year this April with much enthusiasm and fervour. Hundreds of Bengali people, joined by government and political leaders, dressed in colourful traditional robes at several events over multiple days.
Political guests at Toronto events included Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, Beaches-East York MP Matthew Kellway, Beaches-East York MPP Arthur Potts, and Ward 31 Councillor Janet Davis.
The Bangladesh Canada Hindu Cultural Society organized a large rally on April 19 at Shoppers World plaza at Danforth and Victoria Park. With colourful traditional Bengali artwork, the group of about 300 people took part in a parade. Afterwards, cultural actives took place at the Bangladesh Canada Hindu Mondir building in East York.
Under the banner of Young Bangladeshi Torontonians, another group gathered on Danforth around 3.30 p.m. Later on, a cultural show was performed with the participation of many noted singers and dancers of the community.
On April 5, the Bangladesh Association of Toronto held a celebration at the Royal Canadian Legion Hall on Dawes Road.
Years ago, Bengali Torontonians would organize one single rally to celebrate the new year, but unfortunately for the last three years two rallies have been organized.
Poet and enthusiast Delwar Elahi said, “It’s really amazing to organize such a celebration in Toronto. No doubt, it would have been more awesome if the whole community celebrated the event in a united, more organized and greater rally. We believe the organizers will feel the need of a joint rally next year.”
The Bengali calendar, called ‘Bonggabdo,’ is linked with agricultural systems and Hindu religious festivals, and begins with the month of Boishakh. The traditional calendar is followed in some Indian states such as West Bengal, Tripura and Assam.
In 1987, a revised edition of the calendar was introduced in Bangladesh.
Subrata Puru expressed anger that the military government of Bangladesh imposed the revised calendar in 1987, a harsh slap to thousands of years of Hindu sentiments.
“The democratic governments of the later terms should have returned to the traditional form,” Subrata said.
Subrata Kumar Das (en.bdnovels.org) is a Crescent Town resident and writer. He can be reached by email at email@example.com.