Cartoon of the Week 4: Pujor Chanda

VegeterianPujo contribution or Chaanda (as we fondly call this concept) is always an issue with the average Bengali. Be it in India or in USA, Bengalis have the feeling that this is an unjust extortion in the name of a festival that we all like to attend. It should be free for all of us. Where the organizers get their funds is not for us to bother about. Since, most of the Pujo organizers make it a point to ensure that each and every attendee pays their contribution, we’d like to get away with the minimum amount that helps us to claim a stake in the festival. But the Pujo organizers these days are smart, they make the contribution amount quite obvious by displaying it in bold font. To justify the specified amount, the organizers will cite different components of the cost incurred to hold a festival of this magnitude, like goat meat, Mumbai and Kolkata performers – etc etc. This cartoon raises a legitimate question – why not an a-la carte system for Pujor Chanda? Sounds fair to me!

The Music Of India : A Concert at New Brunswick Theater District

Fri Sep 12 7pm – 10pm
(Timezone: Eastern Time)
George Street Playhouse, 9 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, NJ 08901 (map)

Mitali Banerjee BhawmikYou are invited to this music concert in the New Brunswick Theater District that I am helping to organize for September 12. Knowing your love for music, I am taking this opportunity to invite you to the concert and requesting to please kindly forward the invite to all interested music lovers you know. This concert will take you on a trip to the whole India through its music. Light music from all four corners of India will be presented by the accomplished and beloved artists mentioned below. Moreover, this is a fund raising concert to help the victims of the Myanmar floods and China earthquake, supported by the South Asian Professional Network (SAPN) of Merrill Lynch. A donation of $35 per person is desired to raise sufficient funds for the unfortunate victims.

Your participation will provide palpable help to the survivors.

The $35 include a ticket for the concert, full course Indian dinner
and soft drinks at the theater. Please RSVP before September 6 and your
seats will be reserved. Your donations will be accepted at the theater
on September 12 prior to the concert.

Agenda on Septeber 12 (Friday)
Dinner 7:00pm-7:45pm
Concert 7:45pm-10:00pm



Dr. Mohan Deshpande

Smt. Mitali Banerjee Bhawmik

Smt. Astha Shukla

Tabla: Dr. Amod Dandawate

Harmonium: Dr. Kedar Naphade.

New Jersey Durga Puja 2008

Babul SupriyoThe most awaited event for any Bengali, the Durga Puja festival, is less than two months away. Kallol of NJ will be celebrating this festival during the weekend of October 3 to 5, 2008, while Garden State Cultural Association will have a concurrent celebration on Oct 4th and 5th. Having a concurrent celebration has its pros and cons. On the positive side, it helps to divide the audience which otherwise becomes impossible to manage at a single venue. The negative aspect is that many of us, who would have loved to attend both (and attend them completely), are denied of the opportunity.
However, even this joint celebration (I mean the dates only) is not helping the organizers. Depending on what performers are being invited from Kolkata or Mumbai by these organizers, crowd management becomes a major issue with frequent interruptions and threats from the Fire dept. Inviting these famous artists to perform during the Puja is a double edged sword. You need to get the popular star performers to pull in the crowd because it is them who pays for the enormous expense. On the other hand, too many people cannot be accommodated in the spaces the organizers typically use. Continue reading

IIT Kharagpur Alumni – East Coast Summer Picnic 2008

IIT KGP Alumni – East Coast Summer Picnic 2008

Hi Alumnus –
Our 11th annual picnic is scheduled for Saturday, September 20, 2008 (rain or shine). Please join us. Bring your significant other and family, and reconnect with friends. Lounge, bhaat, play and enjoy. Help grow the newly formed NY/NJ alum chapter.

When: Sat, Sept 20, 2008, 11am-4pm

Where: Duke Island Park Pavilion, Old York Road, Bridgewater, NJ

Park Contact: 908-722-7779,

Cost: $20/adult (16yrs and above), $5 (6-15 yrs); Cost goes up after Sept 6

Catered Indian lunch will be served at 12:30pm. Please bring along lawn chairs and/or rugs to make yourselves comfortable. If you have any games or sports equipment (e.g., soccer, volleyball, cricket, cards, baddy), please bring along. If you would like to help with the event, please reach out to us.

To avail the early bird rate, register by September 6. After that the event fees go to $25 and $8 respectively. Send email to Ajit Agrawal ( to use Paypal to register using credit cards.
If you prefer to send a check, please send to: Ajit K Agrawal, 315 West End Avenue, #8B, New York, NY 10023.

KGP ka tempo HIGH hai! See you on Sept 20.

Ajit Agrawal (

Subhodev Das (

Arnab Dey (

Kunal Sinha (

Vinod Addidam (

Ravi Gupta (

Sri Krishna Janmashtami at Ananda Mandir

Ananda Mandiis celebrating Sri Krishna Janmashtami on Sunday, August 24 From 6:00 AM to 9 :00 PM.

Sri Krishna Janmashtami Sunday, Aug 24, 2008 Extended Temple Hours 6:00 AM to 9:00 PM

6:00 am –Mangal Aarati

6.30 am –Sri Krishna Sahasra Naam Path

7.30 am – 9.30 am –Nitya Puja

10.00 am -11.00 am –Srimad Bhagavad Path

3.00 pm – 6.30 pm –Bhajan Sandhya

7.00 pm – 8.30 pm –Janmashtami Puja & Aarati

Sahitya O Alochana @ Ananda Mandir

Ananda Mandir is starting a regular Sahitya O Alochana Meeting of literary readings and discussionswith a meeting this Friday, 22 August 2008, at 8:30 PM.

The aim is to have a quasi-monthly meeting of literary readings and discussions, occasionally interspersed with lectures on religion or philosophy. The first meeting will focus on how to get the effort organized, but we will also have invited speakers from our community speaking on selected topics. Anyone interested is welcome to attend.

CAB Classical Music Concert

Cultural Association of Bengal
A gala concert of classical Indian Music
On 13th September 2008, Saturday , 5 P.M.
at Q208, 74-13 commonwealth Blvd, Bellerose, NY 11426

Pt. Tarun Bhattecharya on Santoor accompanied by Abhishek Basu on tabla.
Eminent vocalist Mitali Banerjee Bhawmik, accompanied by Sri Dibyarka Chatterjee on tabla and Sri Kedar Naphade on Harmonium.
Young vocalist Indrani Chakrabarty Khare will be recognized by cultural association of Bengal (C.A.B) for her achievement.
Suggested Donation $20.00, $35.00. Ample free parking inside the school premises.
Contact Number: 718-631-9819, 516-298-2454, 914-277-4662, 732-496-0385, 631-821-5684,
917-518-5484, 718-380-1373, 516-501-1966, 516-232-5124.
Direction: By subway/bus: E or F train to Union Tpk exit. Then Q46 bus to Cross Island Parkway stop. Enter school gate.
By car: (1) Grand Central Parkway (east) to Union Tpk exit. Right turn to Unin Tpk. School entrance between Cross island and commonwealth Blvd.
(2) Grand Central Park way (west) to Little neck PKway. Left Turn to Littleneck PKway. Go under Grand central PKway.Right turn on Littleneck PKway. Right turn again on Union Tpk.
School on right after crossing Commonwealth Blvd.
(3) Long Island Expressway to Littleneck Pky exit. Take Little Neck Pky (South). Go under Grand Central Pky and follow option 2.

Cartoon of the Week 3: The Selection Process

Walk the lineArranged marriage is still quite common in India, and one important phase in an arranged marriage is the process of selecting the bride. Mind you, I said “bride selection” and not “groom selection”. An important component of this process is to visit the bride’s home and conduct an interview of the girl to figure out if the girl is a suitable candidate. In some cases, the girl is not only asked to provide verbal answers to the questions, but also demonstrate their gait, posture, length of the hair and also their artistic, musical, and culinary skills. This cartoon was drawn to emphasize on this aspect of the selection process – the girl demonstrates her gait by walking on a tight rope. After all, that’s what she will have to do everyday at her in-laws family – walk the fine line with amazing dexterity, balance and skill. Women of our country may not be participating at the Olympics gymnastics events, but this skill of walking the horizontal beam is in their genes. This cartoon was done for Proma (published from Kolkata) few years ago. I thought this would be an interesting post during this Olympic season.

Some Reviews on ECTA’s Theater Festival

Recently a bunch of reviews on ECTA’s mini Theater festival plays have been published in various news and online media both in USA and India. I would like to share them with you, since many may not have access to these publications, especially those which are published in India.

  • Gautam Dutta wrote about “Satyameva…” in Sambad Bichitra (published by CAB). The review is in Bengali and to read it click here.
  • Gayatri Gamarsh wrote about the second day of the festival in Ananda Sambad. Click here to read that review.
  • Alolika Mukherjee’s detailed review appeared in Saptahik Bartaman in Kolkata. Click here to read it.
  • Madhu Rye Thaker writes about Satyameva in India Abroad. Click here.
  • Jyotirmoy Dutta writes about ECTA and Taconic Parkway in DesiTalk. Click Here.
  • Sambit Basu writes about Taconic Parkway in his blog “Monk’s Pearl“.

The opinions expressed in these reviews are solely that of the reviewers themselves. They provide us with different perspectives, but they can never replace the actual viewing of the play and its enjoyment. Plays, films and any other objects of art should be viewed and appreciated on your own. To get an wonderful perspective on reviews, I recommend watching the fantastic animated film “Ratatouille” and listen to the final review by Anton Ego (Peter O’Toole) the dreaded food critic.