Ringing in the Bengali new year

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Former Beaches-East York MP Maria Minna (centre-right) and the Young Bangladeshi Torontonians celebrate the new year. (Photo by Whitney Reyes/Toronto Observer) (TEST)

More than 150 people celebrated along Danforth Avenue during a colourful Bangla New Year Rally on April 14.

Local residents gathered at Ghoroa restaurant on Danforth Avenue at 3 p.m. before walking to Main Street station and back to the restaurant. Young Bangladeshi Torontonians (YBT) organized this second annual event.

Bangla New Year, or Pohela Boishakh, is the celebration of the Bangladeshi New Year. It is the year 1420 on the Bengali calendar, which also uses 12 months, but is based on the seasons.

Participants carried bright signs and masks and danced with boom boxes to spread the happiness of their holiday to the streets. Syeda Hassan, a York University student, expressed her joy by face painting and wearing her traditional Sari.

“If I don’t wear it today, when am I going to wear it?” Hassan said. “This is one of the days where every religion, everybody comes around from all over the world. It’s one day that everyone just wants to get together.”

It’s a celebration for the Bengali community, but everyone in the area is invited to make the rally a bigger success in the future. There have been funding issues, said Md Islam, a YBT organizer, but it doesn’t stop the festivities from happening.

“We want people to hang out and talk and communicate more and build up a network,” Islam said. “We have some newcomers here too who just came to Canada. I told them, ‘Come join us and meet new people and that will help you.’”

Cultural events such as these help communities learn about each other and grow as a society. Tushar Gayen, a rally supporter, shared his appreciation of the event.

“Young people who are born here might have no chance to know their country, but from this kind of occasion, they can know about their parent’s country,” Gayen said. “So when they come here and they join, they’re connecting, bridging between this country and Bangladesh.”