The year was 1986. In an Indian restaurant in downtown Bangkok called ‘Himali Chacha’, a few enterprising Bengali expatriates congregated with a simple vision in mind – to meet up more frequently in the name of ‘Bangali adda’.
On one such occasion, the simple vision of encouraging friendship developed into a focused decision to commemorate a more meaningful religious event – the Saraswati Puja. The decision won universal approval since it demanded considerably lesser efforts and resources than other pujas.
The first Saraswati Puja was held at the residence of Shri Ashok Sarkar at Sukhumvit Soi 15 Ruam Jai Court on February 3rd 1987. It marked the beginning of not just collective religious celebrations, but also cultural get-togethers, festive events and a forum for creating awareness of Bengali heritage and culture for the youth in the future.
Soon the get-togethers gathered momentum, and the call came to give it a name. ‘Bharati’ was unanimously agreed upon, aptly named after the benevolent Goddess Saraswati herself. Once the association took shape, word spread in no time and several more Bengali expatriates merged into the organization. That year, for the first time, Bijoya Sammilani was introduced, although the Durga Puja was yet to be celebrated. Finally, in the autumn of 1993, the first Durga Puja was brought to life at The Thai Bharat Cultural Lodge.
Shri B.B. Nandi the first secretary to the Indian Ambassador then, flagged the association through a host of programs organized by the Indian Embassy. Since then, there has been no looking back.
Today, the Bharati family comprises myriad new faces, guided by Mrs. Mondira Mukherjee, the president of the association.
Each year, the simple vision of entertaining togetherness gathers new momentum through celebrations that embrace not just the spirit of Bengal but the very soul of India through Holi, Diwali and social events.
It’s been just a few short years. But with every get-together, Bharati arrives to remind us all of home.