‘We are not from India’ — Bangladesh Night brings Bangladeshi culture and traditions


With the Bangladesh national flag hung across the back of the stage, songs in Bengali resonating through the air and the Bruce Pitman Center International Ballroom filled with Moscow and UI community members, Bangladesh Night’s origin was obvious.

Still, according to Mohammad Khan, a UI Civil Engineering graduate student and member of the Bangladesh Association of Students and Scholars UI (BASS-UI), people don’t always know where Bangladeshi students’ homeland is, or that it even exists.

“Lots of people think we are from India,” Khan said.

For Khan and his fellow BASS-UI members, Bangladesh Night, which took place at 5 p.m. Nov. 12 in the International Ballroom, was a chance to inform their community about their country of origin.

Joleen Evans | Argonaut
WSU senior Smirthi Iyer performs during Bangladesh Night Sunday night in the International Ballroom.

“We wanted to present our country,” Khan said. “We are trying to bring diversity to the University of Idaho.”

Khan said the event happened because of the unusually high number of Bangladeshi students attending UI this semester.

“This year we were brave enough to make it happen,” Khan said, adding that BASS-UI members have been planning the event for the past six months.

Khan, who plans to graduate next month, said he hopes future BASS-UI members “will continue our legacy” and continue the tradition in future years.

“This is the first one,” Khan said. “That’s the most exciting part.”

For the first event of its kind at UI, Bangladesh Night 2017 was an action-packed night featuring singing, dancing and a fashion show. No two performances were alike — one dancer wore bells around her ankles, another couple’s dance was lip-synched to songs from Bengali movies and one dance was performed with a dancer behind a screen so only a shadow could be seen dancing with her partner.

Information about the history of Bangladesh was woven between each act, and during intermission the hosts held a short trivia contest.

“This is the halfway point of our program, so we should take a midterm exam,” one host said.

However, the trivia contest was limited to only non-Bengladeshi students after the first question, “When did Bangladesh get its independence?”, was met with an immediate and untraceable chorus of “1971” from all across the ballroom.

In his opening remarks, Hasan Jamil, BASS-UI advisor and associate professor of computer science, said the event was entirely driven by the student members of BASS-UI.

“Time and again, these students proved what they can do with a supportive environment,” Jamil said.

UI College of Education P.h.D. student Farjahan Shawon said it wasn’t always smooth sailing for the students involved in hosting Bangladesh Night. Because the BASS-UI club is new to the university, it took them some time to find out how to put on a cultural event.

“We’re only 17 students here,” Shawon said.

Shawon said those 17 club members planned, cooked for, staffed and performed in the event with little outside help.

Shawon said the students were able to overcome the obstacles in their way to host the event because they wanted to present their Bangladeshi culture to the university and Moscow community.

“That passion actually drove us to put this event together,” Shawon said. “The passion of letting others know about our country’s rich culture and heritage.”

Beth Hoots can be reached at arg-arts@uidaho.edu

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