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What's Happening to
Olympic Park Boishakhi Mela!

Faruk Kader


The last Baishakhi Mela held in Sydney Olympic Park Tennis Court has raised a question about the trajectory this celebration of Bengali New Year is following. We are aware of the hard work done every year by Bangabandhu Council of Australia in organising this event. However, this year the eventís outcome fell short of the communityís expectations in terms of our traditional festivities of Bengali New Year.

The new venue of Tennis Court itself was disappointing. It was hard to accept that this had more capacity than the previous one. The Athletic Centre provided an uninterrupted vista of the Mela on a grand scale as seen from the gallery Ė stage, stalls and the leisurely moving spectators nestled on the green grass of the ground. The new venue created a physical separation between the stage and the stalls erected outside the court.

I arrived at the Mela around 5 PM just before when the speeches of dignitaries got underway. What followed after that hardly matched the true sprits of our traditional Bengali New Year! The songs by the rock band were not up to the mark. Itís a pity that the iconic Tagore songs celebrating the advent of Bengali New Year were missing.

Another disappointing part of the Mela was the fashion show, which went for quite some time. The show was a brazen display of extravagant Lahengas, putting aside our traditional Bengali cloth-ware like Shari, Punjabi, and Lungi. I am not opposed to Lahenga and other trendy types in the show, but not in deference to our traditional cloth-ware, which should be the centrepiece of such fashion show. The show also took significant quota of time of the programme, so that Ankahi Alamgirís solo had to be abandoned, when threatened by a storm. The fashion parade in my opinion should be brief and reflect mainly on our traditional cloth-ware.

Many spectators like me are disappointed and disillusioned about the way this Baishakhi Mela has been conducted in recent years. The young generation has a spontaneity to get carried away by the atmosphere of celebration without going into deep. But we the older generation has a responsibility to nurture and preserve our Bengali culture. Otherwise, it would be lost among our future generations and nothing would be left for us to be proud of.

My request to the organisers is to uphold the true spirit and values of our Bengali culture, unadulterated and unsullied by external influence. I trust that the organisers would be awake to the expectation of the Bangladeshi community. So that going to Baishakhi Mela every year would be an enjoyable and worthwhile experience for all of us.




Faruk Kader, Sydney







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