Shish kebabs, bubble guns, politicians, electric guitars and Bengali music were on display Wednesday evening during Bangladesh Mela in the parking lot of Surf Stadium.
‘Mela’ means fair, and the fourth annual event, which was organized by the Bangladesh Association of South Jersey, brought together hundreds of Bangladeshis.
“We try to represent a Bangladeshi culture, food, dance, singing, songs,” said the organization’s secretary, Nurun Chouwdhury, of Ventnor. “We are Americans and everyone is working here or there. This is life. But if we have this fair, everyone can get together and say, ‘Hi. How are you? What’s happening in America? Where are we going? How is it going?’ It’s for relationships.”
Jahirul Islam, of Atlantic City, who moved to the U.S. from Bangladesh 27 years ago, was selling shish kebabs and chicken tandoori during the event.
“Everyone gets together and that makes it fun,” he said.
Bands played Bengali music. Dancers performed on stage. The main musical attraction was Bangladeshi singer Baby Naznin.
Ahasan Habib, 23, and Halal Euddin, 24, both of Brooklawn, moved to the U.S. in their early teens. They weren’t the official performers, but many people watched as they danced in the audience.
“The dances are a mix of Bengali and Hindi,” Habib said. “It reminds us of our culture. The food, the dress, everything reminds us of back home.”
Mohammed Z. Islam, president of the organization, spoke to the crowd.
“We celebrate our cultural events like independence day and victory days,” he said. “But we also do relocation. If people have problems, we help them. Last year, when Hurricane Irene came to our city, we relocated people. The Bangladesh Association of South Jersey teaches our kids English as a second language. We also do funeral services. We help with any problems.”
Several politicians were presented with awards on behalf of the organization.
“The food is excellent,” Assemblyman Chris Brown said. “I put on about 5 pounds.”
Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford thanked the crowd for welcoming him.
Atlantic City Councilman Frank Gilliam spoke of the importance of diversity in the community.
“A lot of my family are Muslim,” he said. “I love the culture. I love what you bring to Atlantic City in terms of diversity. What you bring to our city adds a flavor that no one else can bring.”
Contact David Simpson: