Special Anniversary Issue
Celebrations and Introspections
I had not been a part of the Celebrating Life team from the start. By the time I got involved, the first incarnation of Celebrating Life Bangladesh My Love, had already ran its course, and the second Celebrating Womanhood, was just getting started. And as such, when I started, I was not completely aware of the ideas and visions that went behind its conception. But it did not take long to catch on.
Behind all the high profile galas, concerts, photo exhibitions, film screenings, the radio and TV shows, behind the contest proper, we had a simple ambition: to celebrate the facets of life in Bangladesh. And we felt that arts, be it photography, songs or films, to be best means for achieving our ends. Despite the cynical and pessimistic overtones society and especially the media seems to propagate, we were convinced that we are a people for whom the glass remains half full. What was needed was an outlet, a platform which would allow the expression of the positivity, of the possibilities that abounds in Bangladesh.
The response we have received is heartening. All three editions of Celebrating Life -Bangladesh My Love, Celebrating Womanhood, and Indomitable Bangladesh have received thousands of entries from all corners of Bangladesh. As expected, response from within Dhaka consistently strong , but we are really amazed by the amount and quality of response from beyond Dhaka. Representation of non-Dhakaites among our winners is also strong, and while we bear no regional bias, it is not just encouraging to broad national representation, it goes to reaffirm our conviction that there is infinitely more to Bangladesh than just Dhaka. We are very proud of these works, not only for the level of potential and talent that they represent, but also for, somewhat vain-glorious though it maybe, our sense of having found something worth all the effort.
Of course, unearthing the talent is only half the battle. The other half consists of reveling in it. That is where Celebrating Life District Festivals come in. The idea behind district festivals is twofold. First, we are so proud of our winning entries thus far that it was entirely impossible for us not to give in to urge to show off the talents we have come upon. Second, we want to share the spirit of Celebrating Life, the celebrations and the festivities with not just Dhaka, but the nation at large, but having to tamper our ambitions with the logistical possibilities, each year we decide on a list of 12 districts. At these festivals, we organize exhibitions of our winning photographs, screen the winning films, and sing the songs penned by our winning lyricists. Of course, the task of spreading the celebrations and festivities calls for expert help, and we are extremely lucky to have the likes of Fahmida Nobi, Samina Chowdhury, our merry band of musicians, and the dance crew lend their collective star powers to our plight.
From the perspective of the Celebrating Life team, we can say that is has been, at times an ordeal, and at other times a thrill, but generally it has been an experience. Between all the phone calls to be made, emails to be written, entries to be archived, designs to be finalized, plans to be confirmed, people to be persuaded, bills to be paid, protocol to be followed, things can get somewhat hectic at timesw. And then there are the endless iterations of drafting and re-drafting; what can we say, some typos just refuse to die. It would take a person with great mental and physical fortitude to be able to enjoy the experience in the present tense, but in the past tense, it is an experience that is vastly rewarding. The sense of having found something, the sense of having achieved something is, again if somewhat self-conceited, hard to escape.
Obviously, it is not perfect, and as with anything else, there is always room for improvement. But regardless of what it has or has not achieved, The Daily Star Standard Charted Celebrating Life has given us glimpses of our potential, glimpses of the fact that there is more to Bangladesh then natural disasters, political instability and power shortage. We cherish these glimpses, not just because of talent and creativity they posses, but because they remind us that there is more to us, more to Bangladesh, than meets the eye.
Saba El Kabir, Sub-Editor, Star Insight
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