Bangladeshi Festival Highlights Sounds And Tastes Of Community

By Ian Perrotta

Review Special Writer

This past weekend the honorably named Bangladeshi Ave lived up to its name when Conant was closed off from Caniff to Charest and turned into Hamtramck’s first ever North American Bangladesh-American Festival.

Despite several setbacks that included date and location changes of the festival and a dispute over who would be the organizer, the three-day event was a success. With over 20 tents lining the street and a stage set up at the Conant/Caniff intersection, it was a good time for everyone in attendance.

The festivities officially began on Friday around 7 p.m. City Manager Bill Cooper marked the occasion with a brief speech.

“I’m glad to see that after many challenges and much hard work we were finally able to put this together,” he said, releasing a bouquet of balloons to the applause of the crowd.

Throughout the weekend, the family-friendly affair had plenty to do for everyone. In addition to the revolving door of performers and speakers on the stage, there were games, stores and an abundance of food vendors.

One tent housed a group of college students who came to share the dishes of their homeland. Among the choices available were lamb briyany, chana, piazi, and somosa — all cooked in the tradition of a favorite recipe. Saidul Islam, a Wayne State University student majoring in electronic engineering, said: “We just wanted to give people a chance to taste Bangali culture.”

On Sunday night, the crowd was addressed by Detroit City Council President Ken Cockrell Jr., as well as Hamtramck Mayor Karen Majewski.

Cockrell, who went to St. Florian High School and calls Hamtramck a “home away from home,” commended the Bengali community for its growing success and hard work.

“The investment you have shown this community has given it a way to not only transform it,” he said, “but to transform it for the better.”

Majewski, introduced by Councilman Shahab Ahmed to the people as “My mayor, your mayor, our mayor,” addressed the crowd wearing a traditional sari.

“The identity of our city is tied to diversity and our willingness to be inclusive,” she said, “and we commend the Bangladeshi community for realizing the American Dream right here in Hamtramck.”

While still on stage the mayor was asked by organizer Akikul Haque Shamim to promise to hold the event on Conant again next year, but she was unable to make that commitment. However, she did offer a hopeful response.

“We will surely try to have this event again,” she said.

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