Bangladesh Institute of Performing Arts: Caring for a Culture

Bangladesh Institute of Performing Arts (BIPA) celebrated a colorful, joyous, participatory and cross cultural ‘Pohela Boishakh‘ (Bangla New Year) in New York. Bangladeshi community participated in a block parade and enjoyed a cultural event afterwards to get a taste of ‘Bangla Noboborsho’ in New York. Hundreds of kids, young and adults marched several blocks of Astoria/Long Island City with flags, banners, festoons, ‘dhol’, ‘kashor’, ‘palki’ and lots of jingles.

BIPA Bangla New Year Parade Route
BIPA Bangla New Year Parade Route

The parade was noticed and welcomed by many ethnic communities from real life delivery man to poster size Run DMC! New York City Council Member Daniel Dromm lead the parade with Bangladeshi community leaders. Not a single moment, Annie Ferdous failed to motivate the marching trope with her chorus of exhilarating slogans. The whole marching party was something to in a beautiful sunny Sunday. Even in the absence of NYPD escort, the entire parade was safe, peaceful and disciplined. BIPA planed a day-long Bangla New Year festival with street fair, youth singing competition, children’s entertainment, dance, music, recitation, awards, etc. It was packed with attendees, filled with excitements, and grabbed with attentions.

Practicing Bangladeshi culture abroad is easy for Bangladeshi community, however, doing it persistently in their adopted country is a different matter. Bangladeshis love their own culture. To indulge themselves with Bangla song and Bangla poetry, they just need a gathering place, few friends/family, some food and appreciation. However, it is hard if someone dare to do it for a longer time, with increasing audiences, in an inclusive way, and with reputation. Bangladesh Institute of Performing Arts (BIPA) has been at the forefront of keeping Bangladeshi culture alive in USA since 1993. The organization has been promoting and spreading Bangla culture through teaching new generation of Bangladeshi kids, organizing events, reaching out elected officials, and embracing multicultural aspects American cultural life.

To care for Bangladeshi culture in the USA, BIPA has set forth several aims: First, teach Bangla language to new generation of Bangladeshi-Americans; Second, patronage local Bangladeshi artists and act as a platform to showcase their talents; Third, build a bridge between Bangladeshi and other ethnic communities of USA through cultural exchanges.

Among all the aims, cross-cultural exchange among communities seems to be the most important activity of BIPA in a larger context. At the event, this characteristic of BIPA was in full display when, BatalaNYC, an Afro-Brazilian Samba Reggae group was invited to performed some heart pounding drumming! Colors of the Wind, a Chinese folk dance group consists of full time mothers, performed popular oriental fan dance, Kathak Ensemble presented classical Indian Kathak dance, and Sri Lankan Dance Academy of New York showed their traditional Sri Lankan dance. Cross cultural exchange through active participation is very important both for Bangladeshi community as well as other communities. Indeed, it seemed like the audience were more attentive and intrigued by their performances!

New generation of Bangladeshi Americans – Jersey Wave and The Feringhees – played band music. Students of BIPA performed several theme based dance and music. Enough ice creams were licked. Hungry folks enjoyed Bangladeshi food. Shoppers purchased their favorite cloths and jewelries. Audience were interested. Children were laughing, running playing hide and seek all over the place. A wonderful Bangladeshi Mela!

Bangladesh Institute of Performing Arts Bangla New Year Celebration

So what was absent? Only two things were missing at the event – a Bangladeshi river and some good clapping from the audience. To bring a river to the audience may be near to impossible but to support and motivate Bangladeshi kids and non-Bangladeshi guest performers by giving some strong clapping should not be so difficult for the viewers.

Now please ladies and gentlemen, let us thank Bangladesh Institute of Performing Arts for successfully organizing another delightful Bangla New Year in New York and their wonderful work around the year.

BIPA Bangla New Year Festival was sponsored by Councilman Brad Lander, and Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer.

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