Brooklyn celebrated the Bengali new year with a huge parade on Saturday featuring dazzling red attire and hand-made puppets inspired by an even larger procession back in the old country.
“In Dhaka, they started making giant puppets which feature many animals and flowers, and they parade around the city, so we followed that and we started to do it here,” said Annie Ferdous, founder and artistic director of the Bengali Institute of Performing Arts, which debuted the Brooklyn new year’s bash in 2013.
About 200 people gathered at Avenue C Plaza on April 13 to reign in Benagli Year 1426, with Bangladeshi groups including South Asian Cultural Collective and Bangladeshi Students Association, and other community groups like Arts and Democracy and Kensington Stewards marching band featuring and the women wearing beautiful red saris and men donning stylish, knee-length punjabis for the event.
The parade featured smaller versions of the 15-foot-tall puppets that star in the Dhaka parade, with Brooklyn’s marionettes only rising up to a diminutive two feet, although Ferdous said there are plans for bigger puppets in the future.
And for after the procession kids were treated to cultural performances, magic shows, face painting, and arts and crafts, including pedicabs that locals decorated to resemble Bengali rickshaws.
Kids were also invited to dress up in traditional Bengali garb for a costume contest, in which they competed for the enviable grand prize of a Macy’s gift card.