Uniting and strengthening the Bengali community in NSW
The Bengali Association of New South Wales (BANSW) recently celebrated 40 years of its existence as an association that came into being with the first wave of Bengali Indian migrants in the mid 1970s, who arrived here to work as civil and mechanical engineers.
From inception, the BANSW has enjoyed absolute loyalty and patronage of most of these original Bengali settlers. Established in 1974 with only twelve member families, its founding members convened a meeting which was held at the now defunct India Tea Centre premises in the city. According to the resolution of that meeting, the Association was registered and the lotus logo with twelve petals was created as a symbol of the initial member families.
In the initial year after establishing the Association, rumours abounded that BANSW would fold up due to certain unresolved issues within the executive committee. Fortunately this matter was successfully resolved with patience and determination and overlooked in the interest of the Association. However, it gives note to the fact that for a long sustaining and successful future, individual members need to look at the bigger picture. Now BANSW has almost over 200 members and regularly conducts events that help the Bengali community interact with each other to celebrate major festivals in the true traditions of our homeland.
In celebration of their 40th anniversary, BANSW released a free pocket sized magazine titled ‘BANSW and I’, which chronicles not only the longevity of the Association, but also features poems, memories and anecdotes from the members about their own personal journeys. In honour of a recent visit to Australia by the Bengali novelist-poet Tilottama Majumdar, BANSW played a short video that captured the Association’s 40 years of existence with short interviews of current executive committee members and its founding member families. Said Nikhil Das, one of BANSW’s senior-most members, “The Association is not about me or you alone, it is about the people who make the Association.” This was further reiterated by Amit Misra, current President who said, “There are huge opportunities for making a positive change in every aspect of the Association.” Strong understanding and acceptance of the task ahead has kept BANSW alive, active and well. The Association also hopes to continue its charity work both in Australia and overseas, however, limited resources have restricted the Managing Committee from doing more in this area. BANSW has seen its own share of ups and downs, but as an association that was formed out of a humble dream of maintaining connections with fellow Bengalis, it has done a commendable job. It remains dynamic and upbeat, and we hope to see the Association celebrate many more years of success •