We Bengalis love to socialize no matter what the occasion may be. We socialize during our pujas, at our annual picnic and of course at all our cultural events. We also enjoy eating delicious food so it is very rare for anyone to leave an event without a full stomach. Good friends and good food are ever resounding mantras that the Bengalis of Vancouver and lower mainland proudly abide by. Each of our events is festive collections of people. The executive committee takes a lot of time and effort to plan events that the membership will enjoy. Please browse through our list of year long activities to plan your calendar accordingly. We also welcome suggestion of any ideas you may have.
Annual general Meeting
The Annual General Meeting is a chance for the LMBCS members to vote on important issues. The meeting serves as a chance for everyone to reflect on the past year and to look forward also. Topics such as the budget, executive member selection and long term goals are covered in depth.
Any members who do show an interest by attending are allowed and expected to vote on any resolutions that are volunteered by other members. Also the coming year’s executive committee is voted in by the members present. Please try to attend the AGM if you are an LMBCS member. AGM is usually held between March to April.
True to the Bengali saying “বারো মাসে তেরো পার্বন”, which literally means that the people of Bengal celebrate thirteen festivals in 12 months, we always look for an excuse to get together and entertain each other!!
We organize formal cultural evening featuring world renowned musicians as well as our fine local talent at one of our favorite community centers. Group songs, plays, poetry recitations, dance and Indian classical and contemporary music performances are all part of the many cultural evenings we that we celebrate. In other occasions, there are informal potluck events e.g. Poila Boisakh with mouth watering spread of delicious food and impromptu song, dance, games and “গানের লড়াই”(fight of the songs) to name a few. Whatever the occasion may be the LMBCS members always manage to have a great time.
So join us the next time we have a cultural evening and be transported back to India when you hear the soothing sounds of a sitar. Explore the nostalgic feeling of sitting on a veranda in Kolkata as the city passes you by, all through the power of the words in a recited poem. Fly back to the many hours wasted in a cramped Kolkata taxi cab as fellow community members act out the tribulations of Bengali characters in a play.
Being the first Indian Nobel Prize winner, it is only natural for Rabindranath Tagore to be so revered by the Bengali people. However, the real love for Tagore comes from his literary work. His work manages to touch the lives of every Bengali because the subjects are always of a simple nature. Tagore used the life around him as inspiration for his work, which allows Bengalis to connect to his life’s work at a very fundamental level.
LMBCS celebrates the birthday of Rabindranath Tagore, fondly called পঁচিশে বৈশাখ (Ponchishe Boisakh : 25th Boisakh) in the month of May. Cultural performances with Tagore’s rich and diverse body of work are being put up by LMBCS members to pay homage to one of the greatest scholars in the world.
Annual Summer Picnic
It’s not always sunny in Vancouver so we like to take advantage of the sun whenever we can. The summer picnic lets all of the members and guests relax at one of the many city parks in metropolitan Vancouver. Along with the scrumptious food one can always look forward to a game of soccer, badminton, musical chair etc. We wind down with some good old fashioned Indian tea and bid farewell to each other as the sun begins to set. We look forward to seeing each other again at Durga Puja.
Every year in the month of September-October we celebrate the arrival of Devi Durga. We usually choose a weekend close to the original Durga Puja days for the year. Starting with Sasthi and followed by Saptami, Asthami, Nabami and Bijoya Dashami we celebrate each day of Durga puja in a packed two and a half day schedule from Friday evening to Sunday late afternoon.
দূর্গা ঠাকুর (Durga Thakur: Goddess Durga) was created when the asura Mahishasura threatened all of the gods through a boon that gained him invincibility against any man. The gods faced a serious problem because they were all powerless against Mahishasura. The gods then decided to cast a mighty beam of energy on their own consorts to create Durga Thakur. Thus Durga came into existence with the power of each god that helped create her. Therefore in each of her ten hands, she holds a different god’s weapon: Rudra’s trident, Vishnu’s discus, Indra’s thunderbolt, Brahma’s kamandal, Kuber’s gada, etc. As the most powerful god ever created she descended to Earth to slay Mahishasura. The killing of this famous half bull half demon is commonly depicted in images of her found in pandals.
Beside worshipping Durga,”The Mighty Goddess”, this is also the time when we celebrate Durga, “The Daughter”, who is on her annual visit to her paternal house with her children Lakshmi, Sarasvati, Ganesh and Kartik. Hence, not only is Durga Puja a religious event but it is also about family, friends and social get togethers. Away from home, our Durga Puja celebration allows the community to come together during a very nostalgic time of year. Every year at least one story of Durga Puja back in West Bengal can be overheard along with the more usual talk of stocks and taxes. Durga Puja is a great time to catch up with familiar faces.
We put great effort in organizing this event. This is the biggest festival of the year and LMBCS community members actively volunteer in different organizational activities like decoration, cultural performances, hall and idol set up, transportation, food serving etc.
After bidding tearful adieu to our beloved Ma Durga, Bengalis embark on a traditional journey of “বিজয়া” (Bijoya”). This lasts for over a month starting from end of Durga Puja and almost till Kali Puja/Diwali. It’s a time when Bengalis visit each other with sweets and wish “শুভ বিজয়া “ (Shubho Bijoya) and seek elders blessing through প্রণাম (Pronaam: touching feet). “কোলাকুলি” (Kolakuli), a tradition where people hug each other in a particular way, is also a very popular gesture among men during this time. Varieties of traditional snacks and sweets are a treat during this time.
LMBCS also likes to celebrate Bijoya after the members have worked hard for Durga Puja. Our Bijoy is usually celebrated in a community centre. We try to make it an enjoyable evening for our members with good cultural performances and good food. Once in a while we will bring in an Indian artist who is visiting North America, but that is a rarity. Our members enjoy watching other members of the community perform; especially the younger children. Performances range from group songs to full blown plays. Fun is had by all and dinner is savored by everyone.
Usually there is no snow around Christmas time in Vancouver, but that does not mean we cannot celebrate. Christmas is a yearly tradition that LMBCS celebrates with much vigor. Christmas is celebrated by a lot of the families from the LMBCS and thus it is only appropriate to celebrate it together.
A turkey dinner with all the fixings is shared by everyone followed by singing some Christmas carols and playing games. A visit from Santa always brings smiles to the children’s faces as well as gifts into their hands. We like to end with some festive dancing and of course dessert.
সরস্বতী পূজা (Saraswati Puja) is celebrated by Bengalis the world over. Not only is it celebrated in temples but also in people’s homes. Bengali children from a young age are accustomed to relinquishing their textbooks to their mothers for auspicious reasons. Mothers will stack textbooks a top one another and perform the puja so that their children may do well in their studies.
Saraswati Puja is celebrated by LMBCS on a Saturday close to the original Saraswati Puja date. It starts in the morning and is over in the afternoon. Though it is organized in a much smaller scale than Durga Puja, LMBCS members still make it a point to attend this event and meet with friends and seek the blessing of the Goddess of Knowledge. As always a full vegetarian lunch is served after the Puja.
Every year, time permitting from our busy schedule, we try to think of some new entertaining events and activities for our members. Some thoughts that are on our agenda at this point are Diwali, Holi etc. So, keep watching this space as we try to organize some more activities for our community.