After what seems like a lifetime since we managed to enjoy summer festivities – 2022 is the year
where we can all start to let our hair down just a bit. A year later than its original schedule – The
12th National Nowka Bais will return with its joyous and wonderful celebration of Bangladeshi
culture and sport, bringing it to the iconic Dorney Lake – the home of 2012 London Olympics on
21st August 2022.
This years National Nowka Bais has extra significance to it as it celebrates 50th Anniversary of
Bangladesh’s Independence and her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. To mark this, Nowka
Bais team has decided that only Dorney Lake will be able to encapsulate the grandeur of the
Dorney Lake has been inked into British history as one of the finest rowing lakes in the world, with
the lake hosting the rowing events as part of London 2012. Dorney Lake was an idea that was
conceived in the 1960’s by rowing teachers at Eton college. It took the college 10 years to
complete the construction of the lake between 1996-2006, all in time for London 2012. During the
games there were a total of 400,000 visitors and over 30 medals were awarded over the games –
so if there is one venue that can truly accommodate the 12th National Nowka Bais in the United
Kingdom, it is this iconic rowing lake.
Abdul (Head of Operations) said: “We have been keeping a close eye on Dorney Lake for a
number of years, even more so after London 2012. To celebrate Bangladesh’s 50th Anniversary
and 50 years of British-Bangladesh friendship at Eton Dorney of all places, it really is a truly special
Rumel, (Nowka Bais Head of Media) added: “We want to share the event as much as possible. We
will be using the digital streams creatively to reach our audiences on many different platforms and
in many different countries.”
Since its inception in 2008 in Oxford, Nowka Bais has continued to grow in popularity here in the
United Kingdom, more significantly though it has rejuvenated a traditional sport in Bangladesh with
many local villages now becoming more competitive after learning that the Nowka Bais was
being competed on UK waters. Aziz ur Rahman, founder of the Nowka Bais UK said that “the
Nowka Bais brings a very special connection between British-Bangladeshi people and the land of
their forefathers. I am really happy to be able to hold this event in such a special year and in a
such an extraordinary venue.“
The 12th National Nowka Bais will be a fiercely contested race, where 18 teams will line up in
traditional Olympic style heat race format vying for positions to reach the final where for the first
time in its 12 year history – 6 teams will compete in the ultimate race. They will also be competing
for the biggest prizes in the history of Nowka Bias – £5000 plus 18-carat gold plated trophy for the
winner, second prize of £2000 for the runner-up, £1000 for the second runner-up, £500 for the fourth
place, and medals for all the finalists.
Raiyan (Head of Finance) says “We always wanted to increase the reward for the winners, so it
was just a matter of time. I think we can now enhance the overall prestige of the event, and show
our appreciation to all the participants in this demanding race.”
Most notably The National Nowka Bais are proud and honoured to have confirmed for this year,
Honorary Brand Ambassadors who continue to make a positive impact within their roles and keen
supporters of the National Nowka Bais – Baroness Manzila Pola Uddin, His Excellency
Anwar Choudhury, Former Governor of the Cayman Islands & Former British High Commissioner to
Bangladesh & British Ambassador to Peru and Sir Gordon Greenidge, former Head Coach of
Bangladesh National Cricket Team.
We are also pleased to announce that Her Excellency Saida Muna Tasneem, the Bangladeshi High
Commissioner to the United Kingdom has accepted the role of Patron of the Nowka Bais this year.
She commented: “The ‘Nowka Bais’ is a distinctively colourful celebration of Bangladeshi Heritage
and enjoyed by people across our country. It is wonderful to be a part of this joyous festival that
symbolises the strong friendship between the people of the UK and Bangladesh. As a Patron I am
honoured and particularly excited to hold this special boat racing event to mark the once-in-alifetime
occasion of Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee and 50 years of Bangladesh-UK relations. I want
to thank the very enterprising Nowka Bais team and our British Bangladeshi diaspora for making this
happen this beautiful summer.”
This years Nowka Bais will be held at Dorney Lake at Eton Dorney on Sunday 21st August 2022. Full
details are available on the website www.nowkabais.co.uk as well as all of the social media
handles @NowkabaisUk #NationalNowkaBais
www.nowkabais.co.uk 5th Annual National Nowka Bais Competition
Nowka Bais in Oxford: how it began
In 2007 the county of Oxfordshire celebrated its 1,000th birthday. As part of the festivities, I
was asked to organise Go with the Flow, a festival of the waterways which bring life, beauty,
and reminders of a slower pace of life to this busy part of England. With the help of
fishermen, sea scouts, navy cadets, the Glasgow lifeboat, the actor David Suchet and Oxford’s
community and university boat clubs, we had a memorable day on the river.
One of its highlights – and for many the most thrilling event of all – was a race between two
Bangladeshi canoes, or Nowka Bais, along the Thames in Oxford. Each canoe was forty feet
long, painted bright red, white, yellow and green, with an eight-man crew in dazzling colours,
paddling furiously to the beat of a drummer in the prow. Spectators shouted and cheered, the
paddles threw up arcs of spray, the pointed beaks of the boats surged through the water,
jostling for the lead. The riverside was on fire with excitement.
The event was a great success. Everyone wanted to know where the boats had come from,
who were the crews, how did we put the whole thing together?
The idea had come from Aziz ur-Rahman, a well-known Oxford figure, owner of restaurants
and a keen supporter of the Cowley Road Carnival and other community events. Aziz had
offered to build two traditional racing canoes in Bangladesh and ship them over to Oxford in
time for the big day. He would also supply crews, prizes for the winners, and a Bangladeshi
television news team. With luck, he said, the High Commissioner would come too.
He was as good as his word. The canoes arrived in dramatic fashion, just 36 hours before the
race, in a Thai Airways Boeing 747. Each boat was in three sections, and had to be bolted
together. I remember the scene as we manhandled the sections off the lorry from Heathrow. It
was a cold May evening, late and dark, and the canoes seemed loaded with lead. But we
managed it somehow.
The next day a team of carpenters assembled the sections and nailed metal plates over the
joins to make them watertight – a much trickier business than we thought. During the races,
the hulls were one-third full of water by the time they reached the finishing line, but in the
jubilation of the moment it didn’t seem to matter. I was glad, though, that all the crews wore
buoyancy-jackets – just in case they went overboard – and that the Glasgow Humane Society
lifeboat was in attendance.
Since 2007, Nowka Bais has continued in the city with the founding in 2008 of the Oxford
Bangladeshi Boat Club (OBBC) based at the Falcon Rowing and Canoeing Club, which
organises training on the river, and two annual race meetings – one run by OBBC, the other
by Aziz. Together these events offer a great opportunity for Bangladeshis from all over
Britain to practise this healthy, traditional and immensely exciting sport in a new context.