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Bengal Club…The way forward…
Our beloved Bengal Club, which was founded in 1922, moved to Shivaji Park in the mid-1940s. The Club was set up as a non-profit organization with the objective of promoting charitable, cultural and sports activities. The club’s flagship event – “Sri Durga Puja” is celebrated every year in a grand manner on the club’s own grounds at Shivaji Park. This year marks the 80th year of Durga Puja celebrations.
The year 2015 has ushered in a new era in the history of the club. The new Executive Committee under the dynamic leadership of Shri Gautam Chatterjee IAS (our very own Gautamda) has taken charge of club activities and is intent on setting a positive agenda for change in line with the “poriborton” manifesto which received a resounding mandate from club members at the elections. One of the new initiatives is in form of the all-new format of the annual Durga Puja souvenir; christened “Pushpanjali” it includes a number of interesting and relevant articles.
The new Executive Committee is striving to make the club more responsive to members’ needs while maintaining the club’s leadership in the areas of charitable, cultural and sports activities. Bengal Club seeks to be a “Force for Good” within its own community of public-spirited Bengalis thus carrying on the august traditions established by the club’s founding fathers. The new Executive Committee has chalked out a number of plans which will transform the club into a dynamic and growing institution.
Repairs and Renovation
The new committee took up the urgent work of structural repairs and renovation of club premises. It was the ardent desire of every club member to see that the appearance as well as the structural soundness of the club building was addressed without any further delay. The work of carrying out repairs and renovation work has been completed in record time after obtaining the necessary permissions. The new air-conditioned modern looking club office has been totally renovated and now looks spick and span with the latest in computer and telecom facilities.
Now that the renovation work is complete, very soon a canteen will be started on the covered verandah area on the first floor. The verandah will be covered with an awning and will have cane chairs and lights near each table. Bengali newspapers and magazines will be made available at the canteen so that members can enjoy the pleasure of reading while having a cup of hot tea and chanachur. After a hard day’s work, members can catch up with friends over tea and jhaal muri and indulge in the quintessentially Bengali passion of “adda.” The canteen will also serve choice delicacies such as fish fry, moghlai porotha, Kolkata biryani etc.
Bengal Club seeks to more closely engage its constituent groups viz. Senior Citizens, Working Professionals and Students through programs that are specifically designed to interest and engage them. For these constituent groups, the club would be organizing regular programs such as spiritual discourses, networking events and educational lectures. The club would also have a number of activities for children including a science club, drawing and painting classes, swimming classes etc. Carrom and chess boards would be laid out every evening for members to play these indoor games at their leisure.
The club will be organizing networking events that would promote networking amongst members and encourage personal friendships and professional networking. The club would be inviting leading personalities from corporate, media and education fields. These events would be held weekly at the club premises from 8 pm onwards. The program format would be a short lecture followed by networking over snacks. Evening entertainment would consist of a round of Rabindra Sangeet, songs, dances etc. followed by dinner. Members can look forward to weekly programs of Karaoke nights, quiz nights, open mic nights and weekly Housie. The club would do its bit to promote entrepreneurship amongst Bengali youth by arranging interactions with successful entrepreneurs. The club would also organize spiritual discourses on a monthly basis with the help of Ramakrishna Mission, Khar.
In addition to the above activities, the club would be starting a drive for new members, which would help bring in new blood, new energy and new ideas to transform the club. Bengalis being in good positions in corporate world, government etc., it would help to build a network of contacts which would also help the club in fund-raising activities.
Members would be kept updated of the latest events and activities through a new monthly e-newsletter called “Darpan.” A library will be set up in the club premises which would have Bengali books and periodicals. A new responsive website is being designed for the club and will be live shortly. Social media accounts of the club will be opened soon on Facebook and Twitter. This will provide members a number of channels to interact with the club and keep themselves abreast of latest club news and increase participation in club activities.
Bengal Club will provide a number of opportunities for expressing the talent of its members. Plans include the establishment of our own amateur theatre group as well as a club choir. We also plan to establish a school to teach Rabindra Sangeet, which would give out certificates of merit to its students.
We plan to bring to the city of Mumbai a unique Festival of Arts and Culture (hereafter called FARC). FARC, which is currently in design stages, is expected to bring together a number of organizations across Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane. This event will provide a platform for the clubs to showcase talents of their members and friends in various forms of arts and culture. The event will also see professional artistes and theatre groups performing during these days. In addition to theatre and musical events, FARC will also include exhibition and sale of paintings, stalls for food, clothes and jewellery. The event will also see screening of Bengali movies along with celebrities from the entertainment industry, who will be invited to grace the occasion. Ranging from musical concerts, plays, sale of food & clothing to screening of movies, this event is aimed to be a high networking platform; the next Show Stopper of the town!
Next in the upcoming events is the Bongo Utsav! Aimed at bonding with the local community and bringing together two generations, this is a multi-tiered month long week-end event that will see various children’s competitions being held in the club premises in drawing, singing, dancing, poetry recitation, essay competition, sports and drama for the youth ranging from 5 to 15 years. Winners and participants will be felicitated with Certificates from the Club. The event is being designed to be held before the annual Saraswati Puja.
Apart from the flagship events being designed, the club will also frequently showcase screening of classical and modern Bengali movies and various entertainment programs for the members in the club premises.
Bengal Club intends to further enhance the existing Kalimata Temple by designing and constructing a grand temple dedicated to the Mother Goddess Kali Mata with a Garbha Griha, a sanctum sanctorum for daily worship.
Monks from the Ramakrishna Mission will be invited to deliver lectures on spirituality every month. Our club would actively participate in relief and rehabilitation work undertaken by the Mission.
The new sports committee seeks to actively involve members in a number of indoor and outdoor sports including indoor sports such as table tennis, carrom and chess and outdoor sports such as cricket, football and lawn tennis. The club will also arrange to provide swimming lessons for its members at the Mahatma Gandhi swimming pool across the road.
Bengal Club seeks to emerge as a “Force for Good” amongst the members of the community. It will actively seek to encourage a program of “Health for All” through free medical camps and also sponsor facilities at hospitals and arrange for donations for poor patients. The club would start an awareness drive for improving fitness amongst its members.
Bengal Club seeks to support and sponsor initiatives that will have a lasting impact on society. One of the programs worth supporting, and which is in line with its aims and objectives of promoting sports, is sponsoring promising young athletes under the Olympic Gold Quest program.
Some other charitable activities that could be taken up include the provision of scholarships to poor school children and the involvement of club members in the “Teach India” initiative. The club could also consider adopting a municipal school and upgrade the facilities by donating library books and computers. The club may also provide school text books and notebooks free of cost.
The club would associate with Ramkrishna Mission for Value Education at schools by participating in the annual Swami Vivekananda Elocution Competition which is held across schools in Mumbai. This helps to inculcate a sense of morality and public service amongst the children.
In conclusion, exciting times are ahead for Bengal Club with a number of new club facilities and activities to look forward to which will transform the club into a hub of
arts, culture and entertainment with a packed calendar of events throughout the year.