Bengali Association Singapore has grown over the last five decades from a small group comprising a handful of migrant families to a large community dedicated to preserving our heritage and promoting the assimilation of our members into Singapore’s multicultural and multiracial society.
Bengali is one of the most widely spoken languages in India and it is the national language of Bangladesh. There are more than 200 million Bengali speakers worldwide and it forms an intrinsic part of our identity.
Our organisation came into being on Sept. 10, 1956, with a membership of 50 families, when the Registrar of Societies in Singapore approved our constitution. More Bengali families arrived over the years to build a home on this ‘Little Red Dot’ — today, we have over 1,000 member families from all walks of life, living, studying, working and contributing to nation-building in Singapore. The older generation of members has passed the baton to the younger generation who continue to keep the indomitable Bengali spirit alive.
Living in a dynamic city, we are constantly swept away by the changes in our environment and social fabric while struggling to keep ourselves rooted in tradition and values. Singapore is a melting pot where immigrants live and work side by side with Singaporeans, whose forefathers came from the Malay Peninsula, the Indonesian isles, China, the Indian sub-continent and Sri Lanka generations ago. Our strength as a nation lies in our diversity and rich heritage, where different groups of constituents accept and understand one another, and live together in harmony.
To preserve and promote Bengali culture, BAS organises numerous cultural events through the year such as Rabindra-Nazrul Jayanti and Holi. Our talented members of all ages regularly put together drama productions, singing performances and dance recitals and participate in sports activities, indoor games, and picnics organised by BAS. Every year, we also organise Durga Pujo festivities, which forms an important part of our heritage. Since 2019, BAS ramped up its efforts in areas of fine arts, film and literature and introduce some unique Bengali pursuits like adda, debates, food festivals and quiz nights.
As Singaporeans and residents who have made this island our home, we are working constantly to foster community development within the Bengali diaspora here as well as integrating into the broader Singapore community through various outreach programs. In 2019, BAS was one of the organisations invited to partake in Singapore’s three-part National Integration Council Dialogue series, where different community groups came together to demonstrate interest, commitment, and contribute towards promoting social integration and cohesion.
Every year during Durga Pujo, BAS publishes its bilingual ‘Milon’ magazine where members contribute prose, poems and paintings. It was first published in 1960 and in the early years, each copy of the magazine used to be cyclostyled, stapled, trimmed and pressed by hand in a British Army office.