On April 14, Bangali people all over the world celebrated Pohela Boishakh, a holiday that celebrates the start of the Bangali New Year. The Bangali New Year is celebrated with food, festivals, dancing, music and time with family and friends. Usually, Bangalis who celebrate the day say “Shubho Noboborsho”, which translates to “Happy New Year” in Bangla, to their families and feast on dishes such as ilish bhaji, which is a fried hilsa fish, panta bhat, a type of watered rice and assorted Indian sweets while donning new red and white traditional attire. On a college campus where everyone is away from family and Bangali food, the Bangali Students Association (BSA) did the next best thing and hosted a Pohela Boishakh celebration, one of their first in-person events of the year on Saturday.
The BSA was recently chartered in 2019 and has been growing ever since, with celebrations like Pohela Boishakh, classes on the basics of the Bangla language and collaborations with other South Asian organizations on campus.
The event was a small gathering on the Peace Quad, where Nudrat Mahajabin, president of BSA and a senior majoring in sociology, and Takia Tafannum, BSA treasurer and a junior majoring in systems science and industrial engineering, welcomed everyone and introduced themselves. It was a warm environment, where everyone was able to feel at home among their Bangali peers.
The BSA provided a table filled with snacks and mango juice, a Bangali favorite. Everyone was able to introduce themselves to one another and talk to each other about how different life is on campus and how they usually celebrated Pohela Boishakh at home.
Anta Noor, public relations chair of BSA and a sophomore majoring in biology, shared what Pohela Boishakh means to her.
“Well, to me it has a very similar meaning to New Year’s Day here in the United States,” Noor said. “It’s a day to celebrate with friends, family and close loved ones and a part of my culture that I get to experience abroad. It’s important to me to celebrate on campus so I can still stay connected to my heritage and enjoy spending time with the people I love!”
Tafannum showed members how to make alpona designs or colorful motifs with chalk, and how to write in Bangla on chalkboards that members were allowed to decorate and take home. Zairah Ahmed, a freshman majoring in philosophy, politics and law, said she was excited to finally have a place to celebrate her culture on campus.
“Honestly, the holiday will always have a special place in my heart,” Ahmed said. “Celebrating Pohela Boishakh is one of the ways I stay connected to my Bangali identity, which isn’t the easiest thing to do, especially since I’m not usually around Bangalis. That’s why celebrating it on campus was important to me, it helped me keep in touch with my culture, something I want to make sure to do throughout the next four years at [Binghamton University].”