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A Taste of Home

Tech students from Bangladesh celebrate new year
Wednesday, April 17, 2024
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Photo by Sabbir Alam Shuvo
About 50 Louisiana Tech students and faculty from Bangladesh, as well as family members, gathered at Cook Park in Ruston Sunday to celebrate Pohela Boishakh, the Bengali New Year.

The South Asian country of Bangladesh is about 8,540 miles away from Ruston — more than one-third of the circumference of planet Earth.

But on Sunday, the two didn’t seem so far apart for Bengali students and faculty of Louisiana Tech and their families, who gathered together to celebrate the Bengali New Year.

Known as Pohela Boishakh, April 14 is the first day of the Bengali calendar and marks the first day of summer as well.

In Bangladesh, it’s a day for gathering with family, wearing traditional colors of red and white, singing songs and eating a meal of rice, mashed vegetables and a special kind of fish.

And for several years here in Ruston it’s also been a tradition for Tech’s Students Association of Bangladesh to celebrate in a similar fashion.

“The whole country celebrates it, regardless of gender or religion — it’s a cultural thing,” said Ajaan Rahman Khan, public relations officer of the association.

“Even though we are not in Bangladesh, we hold our country high in our hearts. So we decided to do a mini celebration in Ruston.”

About 50 students, faculty and their families came together at Ruston’s Cook Park, wearing the traditional colors, to partake in a new year’s meal and fellowship together.

Khan said there are about 40 Bengali students enrolled at Tech, mostly in graduate school. He believes the Bangladesh contingent at Tech has grown by word of mouth as students refer others from their undergraduate university to the same graduate programs.

“The graduate student community at Tech is pretty good,”  he said. “The international students office is always working with us — that makes it easier and more accommodating for us.”

Though Sunday’s park gathering was naturally not as grand as the festivals that often take place back home during the new year, observing a smaller scale version with those of the same mind erased the distance from Ruston to their home country, if only for a day.

“It felt like we were not outside our country that afternoon,” Khan said. “We were around the people who speak the same language, have the same values, in the same location. It felt like we were still at home.”