on Golden Jubilee Independence of Bangladesh, March 2021


on International Mother Language Day, February 2021


on Purbachal AGM, January 2021


on Purbachal AGM, January 2021

An Annual General Meeting (AGM) of Purbachal-the eastern sky was held on 17 January 2021.

At a lively and well attended Zoom meeting, the following 19 Officers and Members of the Executive Committee (EC) were elected.

Dr Nazia Khanum OBE DL (Chair), Shahnaz Saad (Vice Chair), Moazzem Hussain (Vice Chair), Dr Anwarul Haque (General Secretary), A Hadi Faisal (Joint General Secretary), Mominur Murad (Treasurer), Shafinaz Payne (Joint Treasurer); Khan Majuba (Social & Cultural Secretary), Sultana Ferdoushi (Joint Social & Cultural Secretary), Zeenat Mannan (Membership Secretary), Farhana Chowdhury (Joint Membership Secretary), Mehedy Kabir (Publicity & Promotion Secretary), M Abdul Matin (Joint Publicity & Promotion Secretary), Fatema Islam (Member), M Abdur Raquib (Member), Showkatur Rahman Shahin (Member), M Farid Ahmed (Member), Tahir Khan (Member) and Urmila Afroz (Member).

Dr David Cheesman was the Presiding Officer at the AGM. He performed his duty efficiently with characteristic ease and humour. He was warmly thanked by the members.

The AGM received interesting and nostalgic reports from the Chair and the Secretary about Purbachal-the eastern-sky’s genesis, development, ground-breaking diverse activities, popular and educational events and partnerships with different organisations and institutions. There was no established Bangladeshi cultural organisation in Luton before Purbachal. Its main objectives were to enhance the knowledge, confidence and pride among the Bangladeshis especially their younger generations about their rich culture and heritage, and to create a good understanding of Bangladeshi culture and heritage among other communities in Luton to promote community cohesion.

Examples of its programmes included the production of many unique events which presented key aspects of Bangladeshi history, culture and heritage. The events included the first Bengali programme in Luton for Radio Ramadan, celebrations of International Mother Language Day with the participation of multicultural communities for the first time in the UK, a BBC supported week-long exhibition on Bangladeshis and their Muslim Heritage for the first time in Luton, an Exhibition on Rural Bangladesh for the first time in Luton, a Bangladeshi Fashion Show for the first time in Luton, Children and young people’s participation including “Happy Feet” dancers, a Wedding procession with a bride in the palanquin (palki) at the Luton International Carnival for the first time in Luton, literary festivals including Rabindra-Nazrul Jayanti, celebration of Bangladesh Victory Day, giving awards to many individuals from diverse communities including the prominent Bangladeshi celebrity Abdul Gaffar Choudhury. A number of plays were also mentioned some of which were written by Purbachal members and all of which were participated in, produced, directed and acted by Purbachal members.

The old and new members were overwhelmed experiencing Purbachal’s past performance and expressed their solidarity with Purbachal. They also extended their commitment in Purbachal’s future activities.

The Chair concluded the AGM thanking all those involved at the AGM. She emphasised the importance of maintaining Purbachal’s status as a non-political and progressive cultural organisation. Strong solidarity, skilled membership and a sense of purpose to work together for the wellbeing of the British Bangladeshi diaspora are the prerequisites for the success and sustainability of Purbachal-the eastern sky.

Prepared by: Dr Nazia Khanum OBE DL

20 January 2021



on International Mother Language Day, February 2020


on International Mother Language Day, February 2001

Purbachal-the eastern sky

International Mothertongue Day, 21 February

Purbachal-the eastern sky, a Bangladeshi voluntary cultural organisation based in Luton, took a national lead this month when it launched a highly successful and inclusive cultural event to celebrate International Mothertongue Day. It was held on 11 February in Denbigh High School, a multicultural school with pupils who speak no less than 24 different languages! The date was chosen purely for convenience.

The audience was full of praise for the quality of performance and the atmosphere of fellow feeling and togetherness that Purbachal was able to create. They also enjoyed delicious Bangladeshi lunch of meat and vegetable biriani which opened the event.

UNESCO declared 21 February as International Mothertongue Day in 1999, in recognition of Bangladesh’s unique history of sacrifice to preserve its mothertongue, Bangla.

The significance of the date comes from an incident in 1952 when police opened fire on unarmed demonstrators in Dhaka, killing a number of students and other people. The demonstrators were trying to save Bangla from annihilation by the then Pakistani government which wanted to impose Urdu as the country’s single state language even though the majority of the population were Bangla speakers. The massacre strengthened support for the language movement which succeeded in establishing Bangla as one of the state languages of Pakistan. It also marked the birth of the independence movement which culminated in the creation of Bangladesh in 1971 at the cost of millions of lives.

Dr Nazia Khanum, Chair of Purbachal, declares:

“Bangladeshis took up the challenge of saving their mothertongue in the 1950s and succeeded. An attack on our mothertongue is an attack on our culture, on our identity. Although history is strewn with examples of attacks on one group’s language by another, Bangladeshis’ record of sacrifice for their mothertongue has no parallel.

All Bangladeshis should take pride in UNESCO’s recognition of our unique sacrifice when it took 21 February as the date to symbolise the international campaign to preserve the world’s linguistic and cultural heritage.”

Purbachal celebrated International Mothertongue Day on a small scale last year. Enthused by our success, we launched it on a larger scale this year, bringing in other communities to reflect the multicultural and multilingual nature of Luton. The programme included talks, poetry reading and songs in many languages including Bangla, Gujarati, Punjabi, Synhalese, Urdu, Polish, Italian, Farsi, English, Welsh, Irish, Czech and Swahili. It was performed by women, men and children from a wide range of ages and cultures. It concluded with a Bangla play (Bhashar Proshab Beddona - the labour pain of language), reflecting our language movement and the birth of Bangladesh. The play was jointly written by Fazlul Alom Rubel and Dr Anwarul Haque and directed by Dr Anwarul Haque.

Over 200 people attended the event. Purbachal was delighted that His Excellency Mr Mahmood Ali, the High Commissioner of Bangladesh, agreed to be our keynote speaker. Other distinguished speakers included: Kelvin Hopkins, MP for Luton North; Councillor Waheed Akbar, Mayor of Luton; Councillor Bill McKenzie, Leader of Luton Borough Council; former Councillor and the first non-white Mayor of Luton, Mr Mick Guha; and Mrs Yasmin Bevan, the headteacher of Denbigh High School, one of the largest schools and the only Bangladeshi headteacher in Luton.

The striking back-drop on the stage depicted the Shahid Minar, the monument to the murdered students which is a focal point in almost every Bangladeshi town. The set was designed by one of Luton’s talented young Bangladeshi artists - Sujal, who is now a student at Buckingham University.

Purbachal is grateful to all its members and others who contributed to the success of the event. It is particularly grateful to those who gave us financial support through the Millennium Awards for All. Without this grant we could not have launched the event on this scale.

We look forward to next year’s event, which we hope will be even bigger, more inclusive and enjoyable.

Purbachal’s Executive Committee includes Dr Anwarul Haque (Secretary), Mr Moazzem Hossain (Vice Chair), Mr Putul Islam/Shohiruddin Mintu(Publicity Officers) and Afroza Khan (Treasurer).

Purbachal-the eastern sky

16 February 2001