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February 04, 2005

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Publication Date: Friday, February 04, 2005

Bangladeshis share culture in MV Bangladeshis share culture in MV (February 04, 2005)

Group looking for permanent space to gather

By Roseanne G. Pereira

A growing Bangladeshi organization brought its cultural celebration to Mountain View Academy on Shoreline Boulevard last week.

The Bay Area Bangladesh Association is a collection of groups that do aid work in Bangladesh. It began in 1982 with just a few families who shared meals and now boasts more than 500 members in the Bay Area.

Twenty to thirty families involved in the organization reside in Mountain View, said Rubaiyat Raihan, the association's general secretary. Members use their connections to host social gatherings that celebrate their culture and unite the Bangladeshi immigrant community in the area.

About 300 members attended the recent cultural show, which included a dinner and a children's fashion show, at the Mountain View Academy's facilities.

The program combined a number of events: an annual cultural program, a religious festival for Eid (Jan. 21) and a belated celebration of Victory Day (Dec. 16), a day commemorating the military victory over Pakistan that secured Bangladesh's independence.

"We have our own way of doing things, such as food, singing, dancing," said Jahangir Dewan, the association's president.

Participants in the program sang modern Bangladeshi love songs as well as folk songs and patriotic songs called Deshatobodak, according to Dewan.

After dinner, community members held a discussion, and there was a screening of two documentaries focusing on 1971 wartime Bangladesh: "Stop Genocide" and "Nine Months to Freedom," said Raihan.

"We let the current generation know how people sacrificed at that time. They should know the history of Bangladesh -- that a lot of people sacrificed a lot of things," said vice president Zubair Ahmed.

The association's events are open to people outside of the Bangladeshi community. Future plans include finding a location for a cultural center and hosting a summer school.

The school, targeted towards second-generation Bangladeshi children, teaches students how to write and speak Bangla, the native language.

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