Victory Day is one of the biggest holidays for Bangladesh. December 16 marks the anniversary of Bangladesh successfully winning its independence from Pakistan in 1971. It’s a time when Bangladeshis celebrate the greatness of their country, and remember those who died in the appallingly brutal war of independence. Central Indiana’s Bangladeshis celebrated Victory Day at the Interchurch Center a couple of weeks late, on December 30.
It was the first celebration of Bangladeshi Victory Day ever in Indianapolis. Participants enjoyed that staple of all Victory Day Celebrations, a kids art competition.
The event featured a remarkable solo photography exhibit by prominent Bangladeshi photographer Saud al Faisal, who donated works as a fundraiser for the newly established Bangladesh American Alliance.
For Bangladeshi-Hoosier children who may never have visited the land of their parents, the photos provided a stunning view of Bangladesh.
Celebrants of Victory Day of course enjoyed tasty Bengali snacks such as singara and cha.
Best of all, everyone agreed, was the chance to share each others’ company, to be part of the first of what will surely be many celebrations of Victory Day.
What made this celebration of Victory Day special was the participation (virtually) of kids from the Urdu-speaking camps in Bangladesh. After Bangladesh won its independence in 1971, many of the supporters of Pakistan in Bangladesh were pushed into hastily assembled temporary camps where (it was expected) they’d be for a few months before being repatriated to Pakistan. They’re still in those squalid camps, along with their kids and grandkids. The only group outside of Bangladesh working to empower those people is Indianapolis-based OBAT Helpers, the host of the Indianapolis Victory Day celebration.[laboratory_slideshow animation=”fade” slide_page=”obat-victory-day” slidetype=”slides” limit=”10″]
While their grandparents may have identified with Pakistan decades ago, the kids who were born in the camps see Bangladesh as their motherland. They celebrate Victory Day with passion and enthusiasm. They participated in the Interchurch Center’s Victory Day celebration from a distance … so participants could enjoy the two opposing sides from the 1971 war come together to celebrate their wonderful country.
What could be seen taking shape at the Interchurch’s Victory Day celebration December 30 was a new Bangladesh. Second generation Bangladeshi-American kids celebrating their very first Victory Day … kids born and raised in Indiana, combining pride in their parent’ country with democratic Hoosier values.
Joining (from a distance) these Bangladeshi-Hoosiers were the children and grandchildren of the losers of the war of 1971, descendants of the supporters of the Pakistan over which Bangladesh secured the Victory being celebrated. These grandchildren of the enemies of Bangladesh are no less enthusiastic in their support of the country of their birth than are the US-born children of immigrants to Indiana from Bangladesh. Together these two generations may create something very special, and very much worthy of being celebrated.