WHEN the Bangabandhu Council Australia introduced the first "Boishakhi Mela", or Bengali New Year, celebrations to Sydney there were just a handful of stalls and a few hundred people to enjoy them.
Fast forward to this year and 20,000 people are expected to attend celebrations on the event's 20th anniversary.
Though the non-political community organisation began the event to share and promote the social and cultural life of Bengali Australians, it has become a multicultural affair with Vietnamese, Malaysian, Brazilian, Nepalese, Indian, Sri Lankan, Fijian, Aboriginal and other cultures sharing the stage at Sydney Olympic Park on Saturday.
The event will include more than 60 food stalls, fireworks and entertainment.
Bangabandhu's cultural secretary, Faisal Hossain, said this year's program would give Bengali-Australian youth the floor rather than import a headline act from Bangladesh.
"The emphasis this year is on our cultural evolution," he said.
"We decided to finish [the performance] with a message that 'this is where we are'. Now we are Bengalis in Australia we're celebrating in our way and we wanted to show how we evolved, and we urge people to embrace the change, embrace the fusion and the new generation."
Surajit Roy of the Bangabandhu Council Australia said more than half the Bengali-Australian community attended the event, and people from as far as Tasmania and Darwin had waited eagerly for the date to be announced.
"It is a great thing," he said.
"The crowd is becoming more diverse not just in the entertainment program, but also in food and traditional dress."