On Saturday night, the Bangladeshi Student Organization hosted Tarunno, a celebration of Bangladeshi culture in the CSU Ballroom. It was a packed and energetic extravaganza. Tickets sold out, but Bangladeshi Student Organization (BSO) decided to sell fifty more, says Bangladeshi student Amit Roy, to give everyone who wanted to the opportunity to enjoy the night.
Anamul Hasan says that he was very impressed with the turnout. “We had to stand,” he says.
Bangladesh is a small country at the northern tip of the Bay of Bengal, bordering India. It was once part of India but became the eastern half of Pakistan when that country was created. It wasn’t until later that East Pakistan gained its independence as the new nation of Bangladesh. What it lacks in size, it makes up for in population. With around 150 million people, Bangladesh is the ninth most populous country in the world, according to the CIA World Factbook. According to spring 2016 international student population statistics from the MNSU website, there are seventy-nine Bangladeshi students at MNSU.
The event, which was the first Bangladeshi Night held since 2013, was the culmination of years of effort on the part of BSO.
BSO president Tonmoy Kanti Paul expressed his gratitude to all those who put in the tremendous amount of work that made the event possible.
“I was nervous in the beginning,” he admits. “My friends supported me a lot. Without their help, I couldn’t make this night possible.”
For their part, the Bangladeshi students showed Paul their gratitude for his work organizing the event. He was thanked on stage by one of the emcees for his great work as president. Raucous chants of “TKP! TKP! TKP!” broke out whenever he took the stage.
The night began with an authentic Bangladeshi meal, consisting of chicken roast, rice, vegetable curry, vegetable pakora, egg korma (deviled egg), kheer (sweet rice pudding with nuts), and mango lassi (a thick mango drink). The lines stretched on and on and, unlike most international nights, there was not much opportunity for seconds.
“We have lots of spicy food,” says Mahzabeen Sabiha, an MNSU student from Bangladesh. In comparison to Bangladeshi food, she says, “Indian food is kind of sweet.”
The show opened with the national anthems of the United States and Bangladesh, followed by bright lights and Bengali music. The room was decorated to resemble a Bangladeshi wedding. David Cowan and Steve Stoynoff, Dean of Global Education, were thanked for their support. Stoynoff took the stage and expressed how pleased he was that this student-led event had exceeded expectations.
The performances kicked off with a fashion show, as guys and girls took the stage two at a time showing off some dance moves and traditional clothing.
Two dance groups followed the fashion show, one made up of students from the city of Dhaka and the other made up of students from the city of Chittagong.
Next, a band played a popular Bengali song and the audience clapped and sang along. The band featured some MNSU alumni. Alumni were well-represented in both the audience and the performances.
Two more dance groups followed. One danced to Remix Qawali and one performed a folk dance.
Next came a bit of humor as the emcees called for four guys and four girls to volunteer to come up to the stage. They were paired up and the girls were tasked with dressing their partner with a sari – a traditional South Asian women’s dress – as fast as possible.
Next came another live song performed by Doridro. It featured a guitarist and four singers.
After that, two dances were performed that showed old-fashioned romance and modern romance, followed by a “mash-up dance.”
Asif Uddin then took the stage to show off his magic. He performed two tricks. In the first, he selected an audience member to come up to the stage. He then took out two Bangladeshi tea bags and placed them in cups. He asked the participant to select a card from a deck and to write down what she chose on a notepad. He then showed her all the cards in the deck again. The card she had chosen was no longer there. After some searching, it was found in Asif’s cup, folded up as the tag on his tea bag. For his next act, he brought another participant up on stage. The participant selected a random page from a book. It was page number 128 and he wrote it down and showed it to the audience. Asif then called out to the audience asking them to check for something special behind their seats. One student came up carrying an envelope. In the envelope was page 128 of the book. Perhaps Mr. Uddin should be called the Great Uddini. He noted that he would have performed more tricks but was cut short by time restrictions.
After the magic show, four dancers took the stage, including President Paul. He donned a wide-brimmed hat with long braids and a black robe. In the dance, he acted as a magician, controlling the movements of the other dancers.
As the crowd took to the stage for the final wedding dance, it was already past 9 p.m. Many stayed, however, for a DJ performance.
Throughout the night, the emcees read some Bangladeshi fun facts. They explained, for example, that there are six – not four – seasons in Bangladesh: summer, monsoon, fall, late fall, winter, and spring. The Bay of Bengal is the largest ocean bay in the world. The rickshaw, a human-powered three-wheeled vehicle, is the most popular form of transportation in the country. Outside the ballroom, attendees took photos with a homemade and hand-painted rickshaw. Throughout the event, there were many references to Bengali as being the “world’s sweetest language.”
The event even featured its own Snapchat filter. The Bangladeshi New Year was April 14 and it was noted during the event that a new year’s celebration will be taking place at Blackhawk Middle School in Eagan this coming Saturday.
“I think the event was very successful,” says Amit Roy. “There were a lot of situations when we thought we might not be able to do it, but at the last moment it just all happened really great.”