Halifax Bangladesh Festival brings community closer together

·2 min read
Mashtura Noshin and Lamia Chowdhury started their business, Dorji Boutique about a year ago. (Simon Smith/CBC - image credit)
Mashtura Noshin and Lamia Chowdhury started their business, Dorji Boutique about a year ago. (Simon Smith/CBC - image credit)

Members of Halifax's growing Bangladeshi community came together this weekend to put their culture on display at the city's first Bangladesh Festival.

Visitors to the two-day event hosted at the Halifax Forum enjoyed a mix of Bangladeshi food, music, performances and artisanal products. Art and products from other cultures were also on display.

The festival was organized by Bangladesh-Canada Friendship Society, which is based in Halifax.

The president of the society, Ahsan Chowdhury, said he's seen the Bangladeshi community grow from about 40 families to around 400 since he moved to Halifax in 2009.

Simon Smith/CBC
Simon Smith/CBC

"This is really important for us to present Bangladeshi culture and heritage," Chowdhury said. "We want to show Halifax, Nova Scotia and Canada that we strongly exist here [and] that we can share our heritage with all [of] Nova Scotia."

Leila Nargis, Chowdhury's wife and former society vice-president, said the festival is an opportunity to bring the community closer together.

"We do not get to see each other every day ... we almost do not know each other," Nargis said. "But, through this event, students and families — they all come together and they get to know each other."

Simon Smith/CBC
Simon Smith/CBC

Bibi Khadiza, Sabrina Sharmin and Tahmina Gazi started their e-commerce platform, called Nova Naree, to help other women who aren't as technologically inclined sell their products online.

The business owners brought products from seven women entrepreneurs — six of whom are from Bangladesh and one is from Vietnam — to display and sell at the festival.

Simon Smith/CBC
Simon Smith/CBC

The festival also featured various performances, including traditional songs, poems and dances.

Prachi Gaba moved to Halifax from India for school five years ago and sells her art on Instagram. When she heard from a co-worker about the festival, she applied to be a vendor.

Simon Smith/CBC
Simon Smith/CBC

"I have met so many people," Gaba said. "This is such a colourful festival ... something that makes me feel that, you know, the art is booming around here."

Simon Smith/CBC
Simon Smith/CBC

Chowdhury said he has learned a lot from this year's festival and it exceeded his expectations. He hopes to make it an annual fixture in Halifax.

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