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Fajli Bibi

Sajid Gulzar

Mani Hayre

‘Community is missing out on in-person cultural festivals’

Large venues and communities will miss out on a lack of in-person events, typically hosted to celebrate cultural and religious festivals due to be hosted in April. That’s the view of Fajli Bibi, executive

committee member for the Asian Business Chamber of Commerce (ABCC), who was commenting on how usually the cultural spring festival of Baishaki usually attracts large amounts of economic growth – as well as other cultural benefits. Baisakhi, known as Bangla New Year, is

celebrated by Bengalis in Bangladesh and many parts of India, West Bengal, Tripura and Assam. The Mughal Emperor Akbar first introduced

the Bengali New Year and official Bengali calendar to ease the tax collection process. It is usually celebrated in-person, but this

year’s celebration, due to take place on 14 April, will be a more low key affair. Fajli said: “Due to Covid lockdown we’re

unable to celebrate Baishaki which will have a detrimental impact on the Bangladeshi community and the businesses as people won’t be spending money on new outfits, food, sweets and savouries. “Also businesses hold mobile stalls in the fun

fairs which generate substantial income for small businesses, which they will loose out on.

44 CHAMBERLINKApril 2021 “Large venues and community centres

generating income from hosting the celebration events which they will loose out on. The entertainment industries and artists won’t be performing therefore they will be loosing an income. These events not only helps with economic growth but brings communities together.”

‘The pandemic has had a huge impact on how face-to-face networking is being affected’

Mani Hayre, founder of Mani’s Madness, shared

the same view, and said that usually festivals such as Baiskahi, Vaisakhi and Ramadan are crucial times of the year for businesses to network and learn. She said: “The festival events not only

celebrate cultural diversity among individuals, but allow businesses to cross network and learn. The pandemic has had a huge impact on how face-to-face networking is being affected and none more so than the ABCC festival events. To mix with over 100 individuals, to network and make all those all important business connections, while it can still happen online, won't have the same impact as attending a

shared event where you can talk business over great food." Vaisakhi, also taking place on 14 April, is

widely recognised by Sikhs as a new year celebration and commemorates the birth of Khalsa. Vaisakhi coincides with the spring harvest,

where many farmers in India would reap the rewards of their hard work throughout the year. Celebrations around the Islamic festival of Ramadan, expected to take place on the 12 April or 13 April are also due to be disrupted, with many opting for smaller, perhaps virtual celebrations to mark the start of the month. Muslims observe Ramadan by fasting from

dawn until sunset, and is used as a time for spiritual reflection. For Sajid Gulzar, executive headteacher and

chief executive of the Prince Albert Community Trust, Ramadan will still be a time for a “spiritual detox”. He said: “The older I get, the more I look

forward to the month of Ramadan. It’s almost like awaiting the return of a dear old friend. In recent years, the fasting from food and drink during daylight hours has felt almost incidental, despite the length of the day. For me, it’s a spiritual detox, a time to reconnect with my Lord and what it means to be a Muslim.”

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