Bengali mega-show casts spell on Toronto

July 5th, 2008 - 1:54 pm ICT by IANS  

By Gurmukh Singh
Toronto, July 5 (IANS) The heart of Toronto city turned into a mini-Bengal as more than 50,000 Bengalis from North America and India descended on the Metro Toronto Convention Centre to join in what has been billed as the biggest Bengali cultural show outside West Bengal. The 28th annual North American Bengali Conference (NABC), a three-day long cultural extravaganza, began here Friday evening. Before the ceremonies started, the organisers highlighted the growth of the community as well as the NABC in North America over the years.

They said the NABC connected Bengalis all over North America with one another and with their native land.

In his inaugural address, Indian consul general Satish Mehta lauded the exemplary role of the community, recalling how Bengal gave India its greatest leaders and thinkers such as Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Aurobindo Ghosh, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Rabindranath Tagore and Amartya Sen.

With India on an irreversible path of becoming a super power, Mehta said, the Bengali community in India and abroad will leave no stone unturned to make it “a nation of Tagore’s dreams - where the mind is without fear and the head is held high”.

Dipankar Purkayastha, managing director and CEO of Ananda Bazar Patrika (ABP), said his group lauded the passion of the expatriate community behind the NABC.

He said his group had been associated with the NABC as a sponsor for the past five years because it wanted to connect oversees Bengalis with their motherland. Apart from its daily newspapers, he said the ABP connected the diaspora to their native land through its Bengali Star TV channel.

The cultural show began with the singing of national anthems of India, the US and Canada.

In their dazzling opening performance, Sukalyan Bhattacharya and his dancers cast a spell on the audience as they captured all nuances of social and cultural life in West Bengal, which has the rare distinction of having both Himalayan peaks and a coastline.

Thereafter, Prakritir Sandhane featuring Sa-Re-Ga-Ma-Pa star Aneek Dhar, Indrani, Geeti, Subhamita, Rupankar and Chandrabali ran the audience through a whole gamut of nature in its pure beauty.

The evening ended with a performance by Aneek Dhar who treated the audience to his best songs well past midnight.

Apart from the cultural show, a little Indian mall also came up at the venue where people gathered in large numbers to buy jewellery, Indian dresses and saris, and Bengali music CDs among other things.

Indian real estate companies such as DLF, Peerless, Grihomme, Mani Realty, Bengal Unitech Universal, Keventer and Rice Realty had set up their booths as did the State Bank of India, ICICI Bank, and the local Scotiabank.

Brooke Bond was there too, probably to sell the famous Darjeeling tea.

Anandabazar Patrika is daily bringing out a 12-page edition from Toronto during the three-day conference.

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