Baltimore hands over baton to Vegas
Banga Sammelan 2019 has just drawn down its curtains, but the fervour of NABC 2020 has already risen, as the venue is none other than the sin city Las Vegas. The 40th North American Bengali Conference marks the golden jubilee of the Cultural Association of Bengal, and the registrations have geared up already. One of the major highlights of NABC 2020 is birth centenary celebrations of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibar Rahman, and the famous Westgate Resort of Vegas will have an entire stage named after him. Special centenary tributes will also be paid to Pandit Ravi Shankar, Hemanta Mukhopadhyay and Bhanu Bandyopadhyay.
The early July winds of the Inner Harbor witnessed the timeless vibrance of Bangaliana as the 39th North American Bengali Conference took the ship sails by storm at Baltimore, the historic seaport destination of Maryland. Rightfully themed 'Bhubano Jora Ashonokhani', NABC 2019, like every year, brought together thousands of Bengalis from across the globe under one roof at the Baltimore Convention Center, majestically celebrating Bengali ethnicity, culture, life and tradition.
The opening ceremony, a dance drama themed 'Amader ei jibono gaan', wonderfully conceptualised by the Bengalis of USA and choreographed by Sudarshan Chakraborty, portrayed the lives of all Indian Americans who have been eagerly holding onto their roots for decades, despite residing thousands of miles away from their ancestral homes. One of the most popular events was the Aajkaal NABC Jibonkriti Samman 2019, conferred to Padmabhushan Swadesh Chatterjee, and Aajkaal NABC Utkarsha Samman 2019 awarded to four outstanding Indians for excellence. The grand musical night witnessed a charismatic performance by Shankar Mahadevan, and the ecstatic rhythm jam by tabla maestro Tanmoy Bose mesmerised the audience.
The nautical winds of the harbor carried the soul-stirring Rabindrasangeet by Laisa Ahmed Lisa, as Gangadhar-Tulika's ektara blended with Rupankar's 'Gobhire Jao' and the timeless thumri of Shubha Mudgal cast a magical spell over a packed auditorium. The multi-hued dhakai jamdani sarees defeated the vibrance of the bustling pubs at the inner harbor, as the crispness of soft-shell crab cakes sinfully united with the succulence of machher chop. A special re-screening of Kaushik Ganguly's 'Nagorkirtan' was organised on popular demand. This year, the Youth Forum performed incredibly well – with an enticing schedule of innovative events lined up, the interactive session on mental health titled 'The Masks We Wear' has been conducted beautifully.
Thousands of non-resident Bengalis across the globe have begun counting days for yet another Banga Sammelan to arrive next July, this time a more spectacular celebration of their identity.