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Malaysian Bengalee Association : A Brief History

Beginning of 20th Century

The first generation of Malaysian Bengalees came from Bengal, British India in the early part of the 20th Century. Some of them came as Government officers, others as doctors in the medical service, engineers and clerical officers and some as conductors and dressers in the rubber plantations that were then springing up in the Peninsula. Most of them were settled in Negeri Sembilan, Selangor and Malacca.

One of the early pioneers was Dr. Sarojini Bardhan who came as a medical officer to Malacca. His name is commemorated in the "Bardhan Trophy" which was donated by his son, Late Major General P.N.Bardhan (I.M.S.) in memory of his father to be competed for in a Football Tournament among the various state Indian Associations of Malaya and which is still carried on annually in today's Malaysia.

In the late 20's it was felt that the Bengalee community that was scattered in Negeri Sembilan, Selangor, Perak and Malacca should get together at least once annually and so the first get together was at the Durga Pooja in 1928 at Seremban. It was then decided that since Durga Pooja is not a Public holiday that they should get together during Deepavali which is a Public holiday.

There was no registered body to organise these functions but it was on an ad hoc basis. At the annual get togethers one of the leaders of the community would take charge of the celebrations for the forthcoming year. The pioneer leaders were, Dr. P. N. Sen, Mr. A. B. Paul and Dr B. C. Majumdar who took turns to organise the Kali Poojas (Deepavali celebration) which were held in Seremban.

1930s and 40s

In the mid 30's it was felt that the Bengalee community should put up its own "Kali Temple" and ancillary buildings. A levy of a half month's salary was placed on every Bengalee and with that contribution a two and half acre plot of land was acquired in Rasah, Seremban. The second World War intervened and the temple was put on hold. During the 40's the leadership was passed on to Dr. D. K. Majundar, Mr. A. K. Sen, Mr. B. B. Sen Gupta and Mr. U. C. Dass. From 1939 it was decided that the Kali Poojas would be held in Port Dickson and these continued even during the Japanese Occupation. From 1946-1949, there was a hiatus as the Bengalee population had dwindled and there was no initiative to organise the Kali Poojas.

The Revival of 1950s

In 1950 there was a revival and it has continued ever since. In 1952 the Malayan Bengalee Association was registered at the initiative of the late Mr. H. K. Choudhury and the late Mr. B. B. Das Gupta. Mr.Choudhury was elected the first President of the registered Association and continued until, 1957 when he went on an assignment overseas. In 1958, the 2 1/2 acre plot of land was exchanged for the present property in Port Dickson at 1 1/2 Mile Coast Road which consists of a bungalow situated on 3.4 acres of land. Since then all our get togethers have been on our property at Port Dickson.

Modern Times: 1990s

In 1990 it was felt that as there was a large concentration of Bengalees in Selangor, a branch of the MBA should be established in Petaling Jaya. As a result, we now have the MBA Pusat Petaling Jaya which caters for the large number of Bengalees in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor. From its formation it has been headed by Dr. K. K. Mandal. The Pusat organises the Rabindra Jayanti annually, musical soirees, talks by distinguished scholars and a host of other activities. The Malaysian Bengalees are proud of their cultural heritage having come from the land of Rabindranath Tagore, Swami Vivekananda, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Kaji Nuzrul and a whole host of other cultural and intellectual icons and try to inculcate their cultural, intellectual and moral heritage among their younger generation with all these activities in the Malaysian Bengalee Association.

Bengal House
Batu 1 1/2 Jalan Pantai,
71000 Port Dickson,
Negeri Sembilan Darul Khusus,

(c) Malaysian Bengalee Association

Phone No: +601110732995

Email: info@mba.org.my