Whenever April comes every year, and we collectively anticipate the coveted Pohela Boishakh, an age-old question – “What it means to be Bangali,” inevitably makes the round. Rapid globalization has meant that this question does not lose relevance at any of the occasions. This year, we asked a few fellow Bangalis what they believe being a Bangali means.
- Being a Bangali means being one of the 200 million people who speak the language native to Bengal. Looking mostly similar, sharing catch-phrases, sometimes inside jokes to which us natives can relate to feel like home. Participating in occasions exclusive to Bangalis feels like being one. Draping saris, putting bindis, and bangles matching colour schemes in occasions like Pohela Boishakh are some of the many things which the young generation in 2018 happily embrace and celebrate with pride.
- Being Bangali in 2018 means writing in Bangla in social networks, sharing Bangla memes, watching pointless Bangla videos on YouTube, speaking Banglish because “English bhalo parina”, and celebrating ALL types of festivals.
- It’s 2018, and I’m a pilot. But back in 2009, I was denied pursuing this profession by the society and my family. Now, I travel solo to countries I had bucket listed as a kid. I can wear the dresses of my choice, go to a combined gym, ride bikes, and drive cars. I’m an independent woman who believes she can do anything she wants to. We still maintain our traditions, like wearing red saris on Pohela Boishakh, yellow on Pohela Falgun, etc. That’s what defines Bangalis in 2018, especially a Bangali girl. Brave, confident, independent, courageous – who are not afraid to raise their voices towards anything that bothers them.
- To me, being a Bangali means not only having a Digital Bangladesh, changing Facebook profile pictures for a day or writing in Bangla using Avro on social media only. How much do we know about our country’s history? What are we passing down to our next generation? It scares me sometimes. Our freedom fighters have given us something which nobody else could’ve given us. As a member of the Bangladeshi youth, I think we all should know the original history of how we became Bangalis and how our nation became known as Bangladesh.
- As with everything else, being Bangali has become a lot more to do with social media than real life. Hashtags, profile picture filters and Snapchat stories coupled with flame wars on social media are how many of us are reminded of our roots on special days like Pohela Boishakh. The medium of expression may have changed, but what we post about have not. Special foods, going out with friends and family, getting that special dress and attending the traditional fairs are still very much what make or break being a Bangali. Pressures of modern life are making being a traditional Bangali more difficult with every passing day, but once we have the opportunity we are all the same.
- Bangali in 2018 is a mythical creature, thanks to globalization and wide access to the Internet, who only exist in the cricket stadiums when there’s a match between the national team of Bangladesh and the national team of any other country. They also exist as an ethereal entity who only end up showing their Bangalism on specific national days.