14 cultural organizations of the Bangladeshi-Canadian community joined together to celebrate the 47th Independence Day of Bangladesh. Organizations like Toronto Film Forum, OnnoShar, Bachonik, Robindro Shongeet Shilpi Shangstha, Shanchari, Udichi Shilpi Goshthi of Canada, Bangladesh Theatre Toronto, Toronto Theatre Plus, OnnoTheatre, Sukanya Nrittangon, Theatre Folks Toronto, Ananda Dhara, Mak Performing Arts and Geetanjoli, all having a proven record of championing and showcasing the thousand-year-old richness of the Bangladeshi culture in Toronto. Each of these organizations being history of organizing brilliant performance individually throughout the year, but they came together under one banner, ‘Shommilito Shangskritik Jot’ (in spirit, which stands for united cultural front/alliance).
The event was held at Grand Palace Banquet Hall at 380 Birchmount Road, Scarborough on 26th March. “In Toronto, we usually organize most of our major events during the weekend, even if the actual day falls on a weekday. But since so many organizations coming together is a landmark event in itself, we wanted to celebrate the independence day on the exact date, 26th March” said one of the organizers.
A 8 feet replica of the original ‘Sriti Shoudho’ (a monument built near Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh, in memory of the fallen in the war of Independence of Bangladesh) was built to commemorate the day. Members of the community and representatives of the host organizations paid their respect to the brave men and women of Bangladesh, who made ultimate sacrifices for the independence of the country in 1971, by laying floral wreath on the base of the temporary ‘Sriti Shoudho’.
“The decision of these 14 organizations to come together and work as a unit is a big step forward for our community. Even though the “Jot” (alliance) is not a formal one and we
have miles to go before such an alliance can formally be made, we are proud and hopeful that we are headed to the right direction. There will be challenges on the way, as we have hundreds of bonafide cultural activists with very diverse school of thoughts. But we believe that we all share a common desire to highlight the cultural diversity and richness of Bangladesh in Toronto, and that goal will inspire our organizations to come closer to each other and form an alliance to champion the good spirit” said Rizuan Rahman, one of the organizers of the event. Leaders and representatives of other participant cultural organizations were called on stage and introduced. Manik Chanda of Toronto Theatre Plus, Habibullah Dulal of Bangladesh Theatre Toronto, Mamunur Rashid of Udichi Shilpi Goshthi of Canada, Noyon Hafiz of Theatre Folks Toronto, Mak Azad of Mak Performing Arts, Reza Oniruddho and Enayet Babul of Toronto Film Forum, Mary Rashedin of Bachonik, Ahmed Hossain of Onnoshar and Onno Theatre, Shajahan Kamal of Shanchari and Robindro Shongeet Shilpi Shongstha spoke on behalf of their organizations. All these cultural leaders expressed their intention to move forward towards having a formal alliance to better coordinate the cultural activities of the member organizations as well as celebrating days of national significance together. The leaders said that the division we may see in the cultural world is not one of intention, rather more of skills and area of expertise. An alliance will give all of us the opportunity to showcase our individual and group’s skills on a grander stage and to a wider audience. Community activist Nowsher Ali, Rezaul Islam, Krishibid Mohammad Bashar were also present among other dignitaries.
Editors and publishers of famous Canadian Bangla newspapers and TV channels such as Deshe Bideshe (newspaper & TV), Bangla Mail, NRB TV, Bangla Kagoj, Notun Desh and Bhorer Alo were also present. On behalf of the media/journalist community Nazrul Minto of Deshe Bideshe TV, Shahidul Islam Mintu of Bangla Mail and NRB TV, Shawgat Ali Shagor of Notun Desh, and Jasim Mallik of Bhorer Alo spoke on stage. Bangla Kagoj publisher Jahangir Alam was also present and was material in decorating the auditorium to highlight the colors and spirit of independence. The journalists pledged their support for such initiatives and hoped that such activities will bring the community together.
Members of the host organizations performed at the cultural segment of the event that followed. The Event was hosted by Mary Rashedin and Ahmed Hossain, along with Reza Oniruddho. Renowned poet of Bangladesh Mr. Asad Chowdhury attended as the special guest and gave speech on the glorious history of the nation as well as the challenges it must overcome to find its rightful place on world stage. The guests enjoyed an evening filled with display of supreme dance, poetry and singing skills as well as delicious food.
Photo Credit : Khurshid Shammi