Who we are
Greater Richmond Bengali Association is a non profit, tax exempt 501(c)(3), cultural and educational organization, incorporated with the State of Virginia representing the Bengali community in the central Virginia area. Over ninety percent of all Bengalis from India living in and around Richmond are members of the association. It evolved out of the informal group of Richmond area’s Bengali community. Since the early eighties when a handful of Bengali families with young children started settling in the area, they felt the need to continue their religion and show their own culture and heritage, with which they all grew up in India, to their children who were being brought up in a very different culture and society in the United States. In the early days, those few families would gather and organize one or two cultural and/or religious events in one of their houses. As the community started growing slowly, they would then stage one or two events in a year in rented community halls. By early to mid nineties, the community has grown to over thirty families and they continued to gather regularly organizing events like Durga Puja, Saraswati Puja and Paila Baishak in informal settings. However, with the steady growth of their community in recent years, a number of active community leaders felt that formation of a formal organization with structure and Bylaws and incorporating it with the state would not only strengthen their ability to accomplish more but it would also add value and professional image of their community. With those visions and ideas, the organization was formed during May 1997.
The visions of the organizers proved to be true within a very short time. Because of the newly established formal organization, the community was able to host the renowned vocalist Dr. Anup Ghoshal and Mr. Asim Sengupta, a recognized tabla player from Calcutta during the summer of 1997. It was the very first time that the Richmond Bengalis were able to organize such an event. In 2000, the organizers were able to bring another renowned vocalist Dr. (Mrs.) Indrani Sen and the famous tabla player Mr. Biplab Mondal. In 2001, the association for the first time organized its Eighth Annual Durga Puja with a Durga protima created by the Artist Mr. Naba Kumar Mukherjee of Liluah, Howrah, West Bengal. The association continues to grow steadily as more Bengalis move to Richmond area from India and other parts of the United States. By 2002, the association has grown to over 60 members, family and singles.
The association organizes four regular events during each year. Saraswati Puja, Paila Baishak (the Bengali New Year), Member Appreciation Day (Annual Picnic) and Durga Puja. From time to time the Association organizes other special events such as hosting renowned Bengali vocalists from Calcutta or fund raising for a worthwhile cause. A 5 member Board of Directors elected every 2 years by general members and an Executive Committee appointed by the Board of Directors manages the association. All revenues of the association are generated from event fees, donations, sale of promotional items and advertising placed by members and businesses in its Durga Puja brochure and/or other publication. Anyone who is interested in Bengali culture and believes in the goals and objectives of the association is welcomed to join the association by becoming its member.