By SUBRATA KUMAR DAS
Celebrating the Bengali New Year has been one of the most cherished events for the Bengalis. To celebrate this occasion, Bengalis living in GTA and the adjacent cities gathered in the Bangla Town located at Danforth Avenue and Victoria Park Avenue on the Pahela Baishakh (Saturday, April 15), the first day of the Bengali Year.
Starting from the Mother Language Monument situated in the Dentonia Park, hundreds of Bengalis, dressed in colourful traditional robes, made a Mangal Shobhajatra, mass procession to wish wellness for all and walked through the Shoppers World parking lot to Dawes Road.
As the weather of the day was warm and sunny, the crowd gathered more than 500 Bengalis with traditional musical instruments. For the whole day, this area was in a festive mood.
Though the Bengali Calendar, called ‘Bangabda’, has a long history of more than 1,400 years, Mangal Shobhajatra is rather a new feature to the celebration. It was only in 1989 in Dhaka, when making a long colourful procession featuring large masks, animal-shaped life sized carnival floats and other motifs of Bangladeshi culture were added and in no time it attained huge popularity.
Since then making such processions have spread across Bangladesh.
In 2016, Mangal Shobhajatra received UNESCO recognition as an Intangible Cultural Heritage. Since 2017, Mangal Shobhajatra is organized in different cities of West Bengal of India as well.
Local politicians from Beaches-East York and Scarborough Southwest joined the celebration, walked with the procession and exchanged greetings with the passers-by.
When asked, Shebu Chowdary, a well-known Bengali dedicated to the community, recalled the days of a decade ago when they started the rally on behalf of the Bangladesh Canada Hindu Mandir of Dhome Ave. As was usual, many different calls for processions started to come up from the society in different years. In a report published in Beach Metro Community News on May 5, 2015, a demand for a united rally in the area was raised and it came into practicality since 2016.
This year, many of the attendees expressed their desire to the present contributor to see a Mangal Shobhajatra in the Toronto downtown in future to showcase the Bengali culture before a greater audience of the megacity.
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