Banga Sammelan, NABC 2015, Brought Fun, Passion to the Heart of Texas

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Photos: Saurabh Sengupta and Rajesh Bose

The North American Bengali Conference was held this past weekend at the GRB Convention Center to an estimated 8,000 registrants. In terms of superlatives, the conference was truly Texas-sized. A total of 146 different events were planned for the three-day conference, 78 on Saturday alone; an exhibits area featured numerous manufacturers who had come especially from India to show their products – from jute to textiles, books, handicrafts, food products and especially jewelry. There were a dozen namebrand jewelry exhibitors showing off there marvelous, high-end diamond and precious pieces and on the other end of the spectrum were a dozen jewelry booths exhibiting artificial pieces that were exquisitely chic and also very ethnic. 

Walking through the area was like being in a huge, well-laid out Bengali Bazaar, in the midst of which was a stage for performers and fashion shows and off to one side, a huge dining area where all the meals were served by area restaurants. The opening ceremony featured a 45-minute spectacular fusion dance performance that told the story of Bengal through the music of the ages

– Jawahar Malhotra

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North American Bengali Conference

By Partha Sarathi Chatterjee

HOUSTON: The North American Bengali Conference (NABC) 2015, organized by Tagore Society of Houston, was celebrated with unprecedented enthusiasm in Space City Houston, at the George R. Brown Convention Center from July 10-12. An overflowing crowd of about 8,000 registered attendees, sponsors, exhibitors, distinguished guests and walk-in visitors to the fair and exhibitors’ area thronged every nook and corner of the third floor of the sprawling complex. It signified the closest official level participation between India and Bangladesh and even featured exhibitors from all over India and Middle East.

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The conference kicked off with the business forum called Houston 2025 and Beyond organized by Asoke Deysarkar and his team, on July 9 and 10, highlighting the future of energy, from fracking to LNG and the role of the Port of Houston, which signed a MOU at a gala dinner with the Port of Mumbai Port.

The NABC 2015 opening ceremony was a fantastic event, with the national anthems of India, Bangladesh, Canada and US. Tagore Society President Ruma Acharya, NABC 2015 Presidents Sanku Bose and Tapan Das joined other dignitaries in lighting the lamp. Starting with a rousing welcome by US Congresswoman, Sheila Jackson Lee and proclamation by Annie Parker, Adrian Garcia, the dignitaries included Indian Consul General Parvathaneni Harish, Sugato Bose, Rashed Kham Memon, Krishna Bose, Manaranjan Seal Gopal, Md. Abdul Wadad Dara, Arefin Shamsul, Swadesh Chatterjee, Satyam Roychowdhury, Rahul Roy, and others on stage. General Secretaries Partha Sarathi Chatterjee and Gopendu Chakrabarti welcomed the audience with a hearty welcome.

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Eminent music director Debojyoti Mishra and dance director Tanushree Shankar amazed the audience by putting together Broadway-style, Olympic-like opening and closing ceremonies. Shreya Ghosal kicked off her latest US tour at the Convention on Sunday night; sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and his sons Ayaan and Amaan performed on Saturday night, and the musical group of RED of Sivamani and Suchi fame on Friday. Shreya’s high-energy concert, fantastic voice and emotional appeal to her Bengali roots scripted the perfect ending to the conference.

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In addition, there was a range of classical with Ashwini Bhide, Ronu Majumdar and Debojyoti Bose 70 odd artists mesmerized the audience – Manomoy, Pramita, Sounak, Kinjal, Iman, Parnava, Keka, Saikat, Saheb, Riddhi, Santanu, Biplab, Biswanath, Rini and so many. Thousands of spectators enjoyed classical and traditional songs including Rabindra Sangeet and Baul to modern and fusion songs, spread over many stages.

The Film Festival was the center of attraction, drawing packed audiences to a host of films like Kadambari, Lorai, Bitnoon, 89, Guerrilla etc. Konkona, Parambrata, Saswata, Gargi and others definitely added to the celebrity glamour quotient along with the famed directors Gautam Ghose and Suman Ghosh.

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NABC literary committee had invigorating discussions with many distinguished literary figures – Harsha, Chitra Divakaruni, Selina Hossain, and many more. Popular drama festival featured fabulous play by Debesh and Debshankar group with eminent artists from Kolkata. Twelve dramas were presented, some even from United Kingdom and Finland!

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Seminars with Krishna Bose, Sugato Bose, Swadesh Chatterjee and retired justice Shyamal Sen focused on current topics and throw light on the past, present and future of India. Swami Ishatmanada, head monk of Vedanta Society of Chicago, spoke on Future of Humanity to a packed hall. He wanted people to focus on the inherent humanity of every human being and not the differences. He announced the project for creation of the Museum of World Religions.

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LUSTER 2015 brought exhibitors and companies from across India, Bangladesh and Middle East with exquisite handicrafts, gems, jewelry, fashion, and sarees. Fashion shows added a glamour factor to the conference.

World Congress on Preventive Healthcare 2015 of Dr. Sumita Chowdhury brought medical testing, diagnosis and knowledge about high mortality causes to the fore. Dr. Eduardo Sanchez, President of American Heart Association and Dr. Seema Jain, of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) were impressed.

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Attendees flocked to an incredible exhibition of Tagore Paintings as also the Art of Bengal with Shuvaprasanna, Ganesh Pyne, Subroto Gangopadhyay, and others.

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In a sparkling awards ceremony, Techno India conferred Shera Bangali awards on Shreya Ghosal (Sherar Shera), Goutom Ghose, Selena Hossain, Konkona Sensharma, among others. Houston helped launch the conference to a new orbit and a huge crowd witnessed the spectacle.