Once again, the North America Bengali Conference (NABC) or Bongo Sammelan, is welcoming the Bengalis of the world to get together for a fun filled weekend. This time, Orlando, Florida is hosting the NABC. Like previous years, star performers from overseas will be gracing the Hyatt Orlando stages to entertain the attendees from all over the country. I won’t get into those details since you can find all that information on NABC website. Rather, I’d like to talk to you about some of the events which receive less attention from the audience as well as the organizers. Events for which you’ll only find some sketchy details on the website, if any at all.
The first event I’d like to draw your attention to, is the Literary Seminar (as I am responsible in arranging this event). We all appreciate that literature is the primary cornerstone of any culture, and we, the Bengalis, are proud to have a great literary legacy. But in NABC these days, the literary events happen quietly in one of the hidden meeting rooms. You’d be lucky if you can find the room. But interested people do find their way. A total of eight hours (over the two days) would be dedicated to the literary events which consists of seminars, panel discussion, poetry and prose reading sessions. This year, we have two accomplished poets from Kolkata, Srijato and Binayak Bandopadhyay. They, along with some of our local authors, will talk about the creative process. How an inspiration gets transformed to a poem or prose, will be the topic of discussion. A panel discussion, featuring some of the most active people involved in promoting Bengali literature in USA and UK, will talk about their experiences and their challenges. We will also have poetry reading sessions, and a special Flash Fiction (or micro-story) session. So, please drop by and spend some quality time with Bengali literature.
The Film Festival does get some attention, but that depends on which stars are attending the sessions. Although most films can be watched sooner or later in DVDs or other formats, but if the directors of these movies attend the screening, then the Q&A session can turn out to be exciting.
One of the key attractions of NABC is to meet old friends. The reunions arranged for the major universities and colleges of Bengal can be a great event to meet old friends. But once again, you may have to invest some time to figure out the venues and schedule of the reunions which remains another neglected event.
The arts and exhibition is another low key event which stays under the radar for most people. But if you happen to land up to exhibit center, you may be pleasantly surprised to see not only the exhibits but also the love and care with which the entire show is presented.
Youth Seminars are another low profile event that most adult attendees hardly ever notice. Well, I am not asking you to actively participate, but you can encourage your children to join them. I hear, they are quite enjoyable events, and your children can not only have a great time, but also make new friends.
Classical music section is another one. This year we have some very talented and virtuoso performers will grace the stage. Ustad Saheed Parvez is recognized as one of the best Sitar players of our times. Sandipan Samajpati and Kumar Mukherjee are two very talented vocalists and they will be accompanied by none other than Pandit Ramesh Mishra on Sarengi.
So, if you are attending the 2014 NABC, please make it a point to attend these less celebrated but extremely important events. I know, you’ll be busy attending the shows of the guest performers like Chandrabindu, Rupankar Bagchi, Anupam Roy, Subhamita Bappi Lahiri and others. But if you find some spare time, attend these less popular shows and I can assure you that you’ll not repent.
Another request, please do attend the domestic performances. They work hard to put up a good show, and they deserve our encouragement.