Lalon Festival in London
Lalon Utshob (festival) 2009 -- the first of its kind in Europe -- was held recently in London. The festival marked the 119th death anniversary of Fakir Lalon Shai. The festival was organised by Bengali International, UK.
The event took place at the Epi Centre in East London.
There was a huge interest among all sections of Bengali expatriates living in the UK. Despite bad weather and transportation difficulty in London, the event saw a full house.Artistes performing at the festival included Gourab and his team (from Bangladesh); Pandit Biplob Mondol and Sreeradha Banerjee (from India); Gouri Chaudhury, Himangshu Goswami (from London) and Cultural Team with Hirak, Lucky, Medora, Evana, Eva Hossain, Abbey, Mosharraf, Nuran Nahar, Dweep, Hafa and Rafa representing the Bengali International group.
The Bangladeshi High Commissioner in the UK, Dr. Syedur Rahman Khan, was present as the chief guest. Dr. Khan expressed his contentment and applauded Bengali International for organising the first Lalon Utshob in London. He urged other cultural organisations in London to come together next time to put up an even bigger event next year.
Dr. Khan said, "Lalon is a symbol of Bengali secularism and had dedicated his whole life to promote communal harmony. This endeavour by Bengali International is certainly commendable. This organisation should involve people, professionals and politicians of the mainstream British community, so that they can realise the secular nature of Bengali culture. This would help form better understanding between the Bengalis and the British community."
Chairman of Bengali International, UK, Shams Hoque said, "I'm ecstatic that our organisation has been able to put together this event. Bengali International has decided to make this an annual event."
"Lalon can be a major source of inspiration for the contemporary war-torn world with exploitation, discrimination and fundamentalism on the rise. We need to uphold the philosophy of Lalon to make this world a better, safer and more peaceful place."
Councillor Kazi Khalilur Rahman OBE delivered a brief speech emphasising the teachings of Lalon in combating fundamentalism and racism of modern times while Shaheen Westcombe MBE gave vote of thanks to the chief guest and the audience.
The event has become a talk of the town and several community leaders and organisations have already expressed their interest to join in such a venture next year. The Bengali International cultural team has already started planning their second Lalon Utshob.