Cultural Program Initiatives Over the Years
Musical Programs, Dance, Drama, Recitation, Bengali School
The Bengali community in Central Pennsylvania area was not formed in a single day. Over the years, lots of activities have taken place. It started with an idea to build a platform for local Bengalis to keep their culture alive far away from home. A critical mass is needed to fulfill that necessity. The Sarbojanin Saraswati Puja was proposed by some new families and was celebrated for the first time in Central Pennsylvania in 2012. Sarbojanin Saraswati Puja provided the opportunity to showcase our cultural heritage first time in Greater Harrisburg Area. With the success of Saraswati Puja, enthusiasm was sky high. Even being a very small community, spectacular Saraswati Pratima was brought from Kumartuli, Kolkata, India in 2013. Volunteers spent hours over day and night to make that happen. A full-fledged Bengali cultural program was done for the first time in Greater Harrisburg/Central Pennsylvana Area in 2013.
Side by side Bijoya Sammilani was celebrated in 2013 and 2014. One of the bigger initiatives was to conduct Mahalaya, a beloved rendition of Birendra Krishna Bhadra at Hari Temple in 2014. It was a tri-state collaboration with artists, musicians, and a maestro to do the Chandi Path. Following this, in 2016, the second Mahalaya was conducted with a new format. It was a more audio-visual presentation of Mahalaya with live Chandi Path and beautiful dance choreographed and performed by the local participants. Both the programs were huge successes and appreciated by the Indian community.
Bengali school (2013 - 2016) at HARI temple was another milestone. The goal was to instill an interest to learn Bangla for our next generation and to keep the language alive outside of India and Bangladesh. It has run successfully for over three years with the participation of Milan Mela at the South-East Asia Center of University of Pennsylvania. We would like to continue if the support from the community continues.
Over the years many musical and dance programs were coordinated in Harrisburg Area. We encouraged the local talents to perform at those events. We also hosted memorable programs with renowned performers from India and other parts of the US:
- Rabindra Sangeet Maestro Sounak Chattopadhyay, Kolkata (2007/2009)
- Sa Re Gama finalist Koel Mookherjee, Dhanbad (2010/2011)
- Bharati Mitra's (Washington DC) Dance Drama (2013)
- Soumen Adhikary, Kolkata (2014)
- Kishore Kanthi Saikat Haldar< New Jersey (2014)
- Aveek Mallik and Sreedhara Gupta< Kolkata (2014)
- Akashdeep, New York (2016)
- Saikat Haldar, New Jersey(2016)
- Sagnik Sen (2017)
- Srikanto Acharya (2017)
- Joy Goswami, Delaware (2018)
- Debojit Saha and Sohini Mukherjee (2018)
- Naveena group from Delaware (2019)
- Soumen Nandi and Chandrika Bhattacharya (2019) and many more.
In 2015, we took on the exciting challenge of celebrating Durga Puja in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Again, with a lot of effort, coordination, and support from generous contributions within the community, it was possible to fulfil the dream of the immigrated families.
“Swajan” group performed dramas from the inception of Durga Puja. All three dramas Shruti Natok, Chikitsa Sankot, and Janu Sanhar were well received by the audience. From the second year of Durga Puja, a bilingual magazine “Srijan” was published to encourage the first and second generation to keep with literary background.
Our picnic is one of a kind. It is truly a destination picnic. Far from Harrisburg, we found fantastic picnic spots to enjoy the day with other folks, plenty of activities, and great food. Our last two picnic spots provided scenic mountain top views of Pennsylvania and Maryland.
We value the support and enthusiasm from all of you in the community to make each program a success.