71 cars, a number that resonates well with the year 1971, the year when the people of Bangladesh fought with whatever backdated arms and ammunitions they had, to free their motherland from years of oppression and deprivation. 71 cars, under one banner Green & Red Wheelers, flying the green and red colors of Bangladesh on one side and the maple leaf of Canada on the other side, driving through the east side of Toronto to celebrate the independence day of Bangladesh. A sight that was unthinkable to many, but made possible by a group of young dreamers. The 1st Independence Day Rally and Concert, hosted by the Green & Red Wheelers, affectionately called G&R Wheelers, an online group of young Canadian car enthusiasts mostly of Bangladeshi origin.
The rally started at around 4pm, Sunday March 18th. Starting from the scenic Bluffers Park Marina parking lot just by the side of Lake Ontario and driving through the Danforth Village, the heartland of Bangladeshi-Canadian cultural activities all the way up to Warden Woods Community Centre. A 12 kilometer long journey filled with pride of being a Bangladeshi-Canadian, drawing curious looks from thousands of people walking or standing on both sides along the way and receiving best wishes from other road users. At Warden Woods, the auditorium was prepared for the concert, decorated to give a reminder of the lush green fields of Bangladesh along with the décors of festivities that the Bangladeshi culture is so well known for, waiting for the rally participants to arrive.
Among the performers were some of the most talented musicians, singers and dancers of the community. The event was meticulously hosted by renowned MC Tanbir Kohinoor. Dancers of Shukanya Nrittyangon kick-started the show after the national anthems of Bangladesh and Canada. Then Bithika performed solo songs, followed by band groups tic-tac-toe, Dudh-Bhat, Band4 and Recall. G&R’s very own Kazi Faysal and Rezaul Rizvi performed 2 songs as well. Sound arrangements were done by K M Anisur Rahman, auditorium decoration by Razeeb Hasan Chowdhury and Kreative Treasures.
Officers from the 41st Division of Toronto Police Service were also present and were invited on stage. The officers, on behalf of the 41st Division, expressed their astonishment about organizing a rally of this magnitude with such discipline. They assured their continuous effort to build bridges between various communities and the law enforcement agencies. A Certificate of Recognition was presented to Officer Johnny Bobbili for his tremendous support in making this rally happen. Another certificate of recognition was presented to the members of the 41st division in recognition of their tireless and brave work to keep our communities safe every day. “We appreciate all the hard work that you do to keep us safe and for that, on behalf of the G&R family and the entire community, we salute you” Rizuan added.
Doly Begum, a member of the G&R family and the NDP Candidate for MPP of Scarborough Southwest was also called up on stage. Doly expressed her gratitude for all the support and blessings that she receives on a regular basis. “Growing up as a child of a new immigrant family from Bangladesh, I have experienced all the challenges that life can through at us, social, economic and many more. And yet, like many of you sitting in this room today, I did not give up. I have decided to run in this election because I believe that now is the time to bring change for the better. Now is the time for the children and young men and women of our communities to start believing that their dreams, no matter how ambitious one might say, can come true” Doly said. Mr. Mohsin Bhuiyan, a friend of G&R and Councillor hopeful for Ward 36 of the City of Toronto was also introduced. Mr. Bhuiyan solicited the support of G&R family in the upcoming municipal election. G&R group admin Masum Chowdhury went up on stage and introduced other group admins. A short video showcasing some of the amazing moments from the G&R Wheelers history was shown and the group’s YouTube channel was unveiled.
After hours of music, dance, fun and fine food, the event ended at 9pm by a note of appreciation from the Green & Red Wheelers family and with the promise of hosting even grander events in the future. The participants and the audience went home with a feel of accomplishment and pride, and anticipation of future initiatives.
Glimpse from the Rally and Concert:
Photo Credit: Khurshid Shammi