Ringing in the Bengali New Year

Following the performances, attendees engaged in other activities such as henna, musical chairs and dancing to end the night. (Maggie Chafouleas/The Daily Campus)

A beautiful rickshaw sat in one corner, with the rest of the pavilion adorned in ornate red and white decor. On Friday evening, the Bangladeshi Student Association hosted a night of festivities for Pohela Boishakh, the Bengali New Year.

“For Bengalis, it’s a day of huge celebration into the new year. Like really looking forward to what’s coming and everything exciting that’s coming up in the next year,” BSA president and fourth-semester computer science and engineering major Sunny Sarker said. “It’s a time where the community can get together and celebrate the past year and what’s coming next.”

In Bengali, “Pohela” means “first” and “Boishakh” is the first month of the Bengali calendar. The new year is celebrated with festivals, food and dances. The presence of Bengali food was very important so BSA had sent specific recipes to UConn catering for the event. Not only this, but the decorations being red and white was just as important to accurately portray the holiday since the color is commonly used throughout South Asia during times of celebration.

“The decorations definitely matter because the biggest theme is red and white. We really wanted to have that displayed in Nathan Hale,” Sarker said. “UConn catering, as you probably don’t know, doesn’t have that many Bengali options so what we did was send them some recipes and they looked it over and they added some dishes. I think the two biggest things we focused on was getting the dishes from UConn catering and decorations to portray the event.”

Food was served before the BSA executive board gave a brief introduction and proceeded with the first performance, a dance to welcome the audience for Pohela Boishakh. The following performances displayed other aspects of Bengali culture through their music and dancing. The music ranged from folk to popular Bengali music. One song in particular was about an individual’s love for their own language and culture. The children of Dr. Khan, a former BSA advisor, had their own performance that delighted the audience.

UConn Surya had its own performance that awed the audience after a brief intermission which was later followed with a loud performance by UConn Kodama Taiko. The Nepali Student Association had a dance centered around connecting to one’s own roots while Husky Bhangra ended the performances with their own folk dance.

Following the performances, attendees engaged in other activities such as henna, musical chairs and dancing to end the night.


Brandon Barzola is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at brandon.barzola@uconn.edu.