Hundreds of miles away from home, the Bangladeshi communities in the western hemisphere are eagerly waiting for the beginning of the New Year or the first day of Boishakh. The celebration is called Boishakh Mela or the celebration of the New Year. Currently, it is the year 1419.
Bangladeshis of Michigan and neighboring states gathered at the Riverside Ball Room of the Cobo Hall in Downtown Detroit on Saturday, May 12, to celebrate the Boishakh. However, many felt that celebrating a new Bengali year here in Michigan is nothing close to celebrating it back home.
The Riverside Ball Room is over 35,000 square feet in size and there were over 6,000 people cramped busy in activities. The main attraction was to meet and greet people from all over Michigan and neighboring states. Many got a chance to meet their friends, family members, and relatives under one roof on this occasion. That does not happen quite often. There were scores of stalls selling traditional Bangladeshi foods and snacks. What is more important than Desi snacks and tea while greeting friends? Groups of ladies were leaning over the tables loaded with Saris and dresses in the bazaar section of the event ignoring the rest of the crowd. "I can buy my Saris & dresses for the oncoming Eids," says Taslima of Canton. There was also clothing for gents and children as well.
The major sponsors of the event were Detroit Medical Center, who had their own stall set up for health exams. They had a group of professionals checking cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure while also counseling and advising many older participants. To name a few other sponsors and non-profit organizations, there were Academy International School, Distress Children International, BAPAC, and Troy Athens High School. Among the dignitaries, Michigan Congressman, Hanson Clarke, was present roaming around in the crowd, while meeting and greeting friends and supporters. It is worth noting that his father was an immigrant from Sylhet, Bangladesh.
Many non-Bengali people also attended the Mela including people from the Indo-Pak sub-continent and Michigan Americans dressed in traditional Selwar and Kamiz.
A children's art competition was conducted by Abu Hanif during the event. Kids were drawing and painting natural and rural sceneries of Bangladesh. The Bangladesh Student Association (BSA) of Wayne State University sponsored to sub-lease one entire corner of the hall for gaming activities for children of all ages, including hoops, moon walks, and more.
For the audience’s entertainment, performers were present from local communities as well as all the way from Bangladesh. S.I. Tutul and Ruksana Safa, a couple of renowned TV singers in Bangladesh, kept the audience on their feet.
On an interview, one of the organizers, Monir Zaman from Rochester Hills, an automotive engineer, mentioned that this is the fifth year they have been hosting this event in Cobo Hall. This event is neither organized nor hosted by any group or organization. Five years ago they started it spontaneously and it is growing every year. The coordinator of the event, Ferdous Gazi, an automotive engineering manager, mentioned that this is the largest gathering of Bangladeshi people in Michigan, run by a non-profit group of people without any backing from any political or non-political organization.