Sunday 30 June 2019
The term Boishakhi Mela dates back to the Mughal reign when Emperor Akbar introduced the Bangla New Year. Since the inception of the Bangla New Year, Bengalis have celebrated the Pohela Boishakh by organising a traditional mela or fair.
In Bengali, Boishakh is the first month of the Bangla calendar year making Pohela Boishakh the first day of the Bangla New Year.
Traditionally the Pohela Boishakh was observed in rural areas of Bangladesh before a progressive cultural organisation Chayanot, bought the celebration to Dhaka city. Bengali students, who came to the UK from then East Pakistan for their studies, introduced Bengali New Year celebrations to the UK.
Following the independence of Bangladesh in 1971, the Pohela Boishakh was celebrated in a much bigger way in Trafalgar Square in 1972 and 1973. The Bengali New Year celebrations used to be observed by various groups in Britain in their own styles. Among those events the Desh Bikasher Mela was a notable example. This mela took place between 1991 and 1996 at various places in Tower Hamlets.
The largest Boishakhi Mela was staged at Brick Lane on 10 May, 1998, organised by a number of groups and businesses and supported by Cityside Regeneration.
Mahmud A Rouf was the convenor of the first Brick Lane Boishakhi Mela. Sonawar Ali was elected Chairman of the mela committee in 2000. Since then, the Boishakhi Mela was organised under the Boishakhi Mela Trust Ltd with Shiraj M Haque at the helm.
Tower Hamlets Council organised the Boishakhi Mela between 2009 and 2011. After that, the role went back to Shiraj M Haque.
This year, for the second year running, the mela will return to Weavers Fields in the heart of Banglatown. Since 2016 the mela has been organised by the council with input from a wide ranging Mela Community Engagement Group and has seen a much more family-friendly and cultural focus.
By Nobab Uddin on behalf of the Boishakhi Mela Community Engagement Group
Tower Hamlets Council is delighted to have received support and advice from leading journalists, cultural, business and community members who have given their time and expertise to form the Boishakhi Mela Community Engagement Group.
This group, which has considerable knowledge and understanding of Bengali culture, has worked closely with the council to ensure that the Mela reflects the interest of local people and the traditional celebrations held in Bangladesh. It's advice has been invaluable in both the programming and management this year's event.
Celebrate the summer in style at the Boishakhi Mela. An exciting mix of modern and popular entertainment from Bangladesh and the local community. A great, free day out for the whole family.
Weavers Fields, London, E2 6HD
Sunday 30 June 2019