Bengali New Year Celebration in Davis
By Ras H. Siddiqui
Glipmses of the annual Boishakhi Mela (New Year Festival) organized by the local community of Davis and Ananadamela
The Sacramento area’s diverse ethnic makeup includes over 150 Bangladeshi and Indian-Bengali families which have made it a tradition to gather together at an annual Boishakhi Mela (New Year Festival) organized by the local community and a group called Ananadamela.
This year the venue once again was in the college town of Davis which holds its “ Earth Day” around this time of the year. Once both events were tried on the same day but the traffic problems associated with Earth Day prevented many from reaching the venue. This year the Boishakhi event was held on April 9th.
Bengal is a land of vivid colors. The green of the landscape there contrasts with the golden marigold flowers giving “Sonar Bangla” (Golden Bengal) its uniqueness. Both there and at this event the women and children in white, red and golden attire really enlivened the proceedings and the sweet smell of fine food dominated the packed hall upon entry. Jhal Muri, authentic home made Chomchom (it was great), Rosogolla, Bangla Paan and Ilish Mach (Hilsa fish) and Bhat were being consumed in large quantities. The only thing missing was the Bogra style “Dohi” or date palm yogurt, but nevertheless the cuisine available was excellent.
The celebration of Bengali New Year 1418 went on in full swing with children performing on stage to some lively music. Tagore’s “Esho He Boishakh” (Welcome New Year) is a must at this program. So are his other Rabrindra Sangeet, not to forget the Nazrul Geeti by Qazi Nazrul Islam. Song, music and dance entertained everyone as both the children and adults gave spirited performances.
The Bengali community in Sacramento is a late comer and is growing slowly in comparison to the other South Asian ethnic groups, especially the Punjabis who came here way before everyone else to settle in northern California during the early part of the last century. During the 1990’s employment with the State and companies like Intel in nearby Folsom have attracted technical people from Bangladesh and West Bengal to this area.
In closing, kudos to the organizers for holding this very successful event, with a suggestion or two as local Bengalis want to share their culture and engage in outreach into the mainstream. Next year, an occasional English translation of what is going on might benefit non-Bengali visitors and a bigger venue might not hurt either. Shuvo Nabo Barsho, a Happy Bengali New Year from California’s capital city!