The 1st Bangadesh Day Parade that divided the community and spurred violence last week, did not live up to its expectations. The police and sheriff cars blocked off Union Avenue, one of the busiest roads in Paterson, and other surrounding streets for the parade. Traffic was then redirected towards Totowa Avenue, a small two way street, where an ambulance that was transporting an ill patient faced much difficulty trying to get through.
The spectacle was supposed to begin at 12pm, however after much waiting nothing happened and only a few people lingered on the street. At around 1pm a group of women and a man appeared holding tiger masks on their hands. They made their way through the street shying away from our cameras. They didn’t have any flair or coordination. They just walked, and walked, and walked. Presumably ten minutes later the show started.
The Bengali men dressed in modern western clothes except for a few who mixed and matched. The women on the other hand dressed in their traditional garments. They held posters that said Bangladesh Institute of Performing Arts, and 1st Bangladesh Day Parade. The floats showcased the American and Bangladeshi flag side by side while kids threw candy and others threw water bottles at the audience. Music blasted from the floats as happy children waved. At the beginning there were few but now hundreds of people joined in to see the event.
The event that lasted no longer than 15 minutes was heavily filled with police officers and their cars to make it seem longer. In actuality the Bangladesh Day Parade was five minutes of Bengali people on floats, inside cars, and mostly walking with some music on. The parade did not include any essentials for it to be a parade. There were no marching bands, there was no formality, and it did not showcase the vibrant culture of the Bangladeshi people. Where are the Bengali dances, elegant shalwar kameez, the fancy sarees, and the men in traditional clothing?
The parade ended near Autozone and the “mela” or festival began afterwards at St. Mary’s Church parking lot exactly like the last one.
The police surrounded the Church parking lot and the street across from it, they even set up a surveillance camera. “Somebody doin something,” said a lady who lived in a house across the church parking lot. She was confused about what was going on. While her Bengali neighbors were being bombarded with phone calls she did not receive one message letting her know about the event.
This festival saw a much smaller audience than the one done two weeks ago. However, they did try to appeal to the younger generation by playing pop music. Neighbors who are not socially accepted into these Bengali events feel that these festivals have become too common. “They do this every day,” one man said.