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Introduction

Bengali Cultural Association, Panaji, Goa, is a 37 year old organization which was established in 1981. It has been promoting the Bengali culture in Goa through various cultural activities like dance, music, film, theatre, religious festivals and other literary activities and also exchanging the rich cultural heritage of both Bengal & Goa by organizing cultural programmes on a common platform throughout the year.

Let us take you through the story of our association since its inception.

The Bengali Cultural Association, Panaji is the end product of a brainwave that came to 3 – 4 Bengali youths way back in 1980, during their bus journey back to Panaji from a trip to Vasco. These people went to Vasco to participate in the Durga Puja festival organised by the Goa Bongo Samiti near the Natraj Theatre, Vasco.  At that time public transport system was not very good in Goa, therefore persons staying in Panaji or other places outside Vasco had to undergo several hours of strenuous bus journey if they wanted to participate in the Durga Puja festival of Vasco.  Even then the participation had to be only for brief 1-2 daylight hours as one had to catch the bus for return journey in time.  The initial idea of those 3-4 Bengali youths was only to organize a Durga Puja in Panaji in the following year (i. e. 1981), where they can enjoy the festivities to their hearts content for the entire festival period of 5 days.

Fortunately, those people were not only dreamers but had the dynamism and enthusiasm to realise their dream. Once decided they started working towards achieving their goal. Incidentally at that time there were a couple of Bengali persons, who were holding prominent positions in various establishments in Panaji. These people were contacted and requested to join hands to realise the goal. The persuasion and persistent efforts enabled overcoming the initial skepticism.

The idea started snow balling by word of mouth amongst the Bengalis (very few at that time) residing in far off places of north Goa. The determined few inserted an advertisement in the local daily Navhind Times calling all the Bengalis in and around to gather for a meeting in Panaji. That meeting was held and participants enthusiastically supported the idea for holding a Durga Puja in Panaji. Some of those present in the meeting, even went to the extent of committing their personal money to bear the cost of organizing such a festival.

Subsequent to this initial meeting, started the serious business of following up on the idea. It was decided that the effort should not end at holding only a Durga Puja in Panaji; rather a formal entity should also be formed to provide a platform for social and cultural interaction of the Bengalis staying in Panaji and other places in north Goa. That momentous decision culminated in formation of the association (at that time named Bangiya Sanskritik Samiti, Panaji, Goa ) whose constitution was passed in a General Body Meeting in Panaji on 19-4-1981 and subsequent registration of the entity with the Registrar of Societies, Govt. of Goa.

Since then it has been a long and happy journey. With the patronage of Goan brethren and industrial houses, the Durga Puja Festival of Panaji has now become the part and parcel of the socio-cultural life of the people Goa in general and of the citizens of Panaji in particular. For all the Bengalis in Panaji the association has became a vibrant forum for social interaction and nurturing cultural identity.  The activities of the association over the years expanded manifold and it became a valued platform for interaction and assimilation of the great cultural heritages of Goa and Bengal.

The Bengali Cultural Association, Panaji is specially grateful to the respected ‘House of Dempo’ of Goa, for their encouragement and support since beginning of this organization. This relationship is now continuing in its third generation starting with Padmashree Vasantrao S. Dempo, then Late Mr. Vasudeva V. Dempo and presently with Mr. Shrinivas V. Dempo, the Chairman of the Dempo Group of Companies being the consecutive Chief Patrons of the Bengali Cultural Association.

The Bengali Cultural Association has  its own permanent premises at X-16, Bldg A1, Jairam Complex, Neugi Nagar, Panaji.