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Lokvani Talks To New England Sampreeti

Ranjani Saigal

New England Sampreeti facilitates and promotes socio-religious and cultural exchanges within the Indian community of Greater Boston.  The group is hosting a very special Diwali event this weekend in New Hampshire. To learn more about this event please visit their website at  http://www.nesampreeti.org/

What motivated you to start New England Sampreeti? 

During a casual get together on a cold January evening in 2014, a few of us got drifted into reminisces of an age-old tradition - worshiping Ma Kali and celebrating Diwali. Surely and steadily, we were engulfed with anecdotes recounting charkhas, anars, rockets and chocolate bombs, flawed interpretation of slokas and rhythmic beats of dhak/dholak. We repented how next generation of Indian-American kids, our sons and daughters, were completely disconnected from this experience. So, why not launch a new chapter here in New Hampshire, close to our homes!

What events have you conducted under this banner? 

Diwali is the only event we’ve undertaken through our non-profit org “ . The evening is packed with multiple sub-events -- Kali Puja and Bhog, Catered Dinner (Veg/Non-Veg) and Bollywood music (Zee Sa-Re-Ga-Ma performers). Hence the primary focus has been to get this organized optimally from day 1. 

Also, most of the committee members are associated with other events and cultural programs throughout the year, besides their day job and family commitments. 

Can you tell us why your Diwali program is so special? 

Though we were unsure of receptiveness at first, we realized there was an unmet desire in the festive season. An event that could bond people of common origin and similar roots who’ve grown up in the ambiance of Kali Puja or Lakshmi Puja at home and the bright luminescence of fire crackers on rooftops, patios and bylanes.

As with any venture, we started the first year on a low budget but were fortunate to find talented musicians (and friends) within the Indian community who were willing to build a band and perform in front of 550 people, free of charge. We ensured that there was enough bhog (khichri, veggies and halwa prasad) and tea early in the evening and adequate dinner with veg and non-veg choices. For fireworks, we ensured that the guests were grouped in batches so that the area would not be overcrowded and safety precautions could be observed. Finally, when the singers took over followed by DJ, people were ready to swing and move to the latest Bollywood beats. After 6 to 7 hours of exhilarating engagement, guests went back with fond memories. 

Next morning we returned to the school fields for a thorough cleanup, with body aching from lack of rest. Then messages started pouring in all over Facebook, Whatsapp and personal email. Someone noted – “It felt like Pragati Maidan of Delhi during Diwali”. Others couldn’t fathom what they had just experienced with the smell of burning fireworks. Four years later, we take immense pride and joy in serving the community as one of the most well organized events in the New England area. Perhaps a testament to the event’s popularity is the fact that it sells out 3 to 4 weeks in advance.

Any special message for our readers? 

New England Sampreeti wishes everyone a Joyful Diwali! We thank all our patrons and guests for supporting our event over all these four years. A big thank you -- from the bottom of our hearts -- to our spouses and friends who have volunteered to market the event, cook (large trays) and distribute bhog, serve dinner, register guests at front-desk and supervise fireworks to ensure safety.

About The Team

The team is composed of 5 members - Sugata (Gaga) Bhattacharjee, Shaan (Santanu) Bagchi, Subhadip Bandyopadhyay, Biswa Bhattacharya and Sanjay Chatterjee. It is a flat structure without any titles. But each person brings some unique capabilities to the table which eventually helps this organization perform like a well-oiled machine. Certainly we have our disagreements but we are all driven collectively towards one mission – to bring the community together with a Dhamakedar Diwali!

Sugata (Gaga) Bhattacharjee

Sugata (Gaga) Bhattacharjee lives and in Derry, NH with his wife Harneesh Bhattacharjee and two of their daughters Mahima and Molly. Sugata is a Doctor of Audiology and Harneesh is a Speech Language Pathologist. They try to balance the 2-State (Bengali-Punjabi) culture, traditions and rituals as much as possible.

Sugata loves music, movies, sport and political news like every Bong. He grew up in the north east state of Tripura. Kali Pujo was special because it was when the weather would get foggy. The smell of brunt fire crackers and the smog still makes him nostalgic.Both Sugata and Harneesh wants their kids to stay closely bonded with the Indian culture.

Santanu (Shaan) Bagchi 

Shaan (Santanu) Bagchi has been living in greater Boston area for 16 years with his wife, Anamika (Tina) Chaudhuri, Ph.D and son, Shiron. For livelihood, Shaan manages/markets software product while Tina provides analytical expertise as lead Bio-statistician. Shaan loves playing soccer and baseball with his son, apart from reading, writing, reciting, acting/directing plays and organizing community events.

Shaan grew up in Barrackpore, a suburb of Kolkata (India), in a joint family of uncles, aunts and cousins. Diwali and Kali Pujo had special essence for him, providing enough indulgence in fire crackers for 3 days from roof-top, patio and adjacent lanes. Living in US, he now wants his son to get soaked in the traditions surrounding Diwali.

Subhadip Bandyopadhyay

Subhadip Bandyopadhyay has been living in greater Boston area for 17 years with his wife Tanima and two daughters, Arushi and Aahana. Professionally, Subhadip is a technology leader working on Industrial Automation for GE. He loves to write, act and direct plays on stage along with recitation in both Bengali and Hindi.

Subhadip grew up in Bally, a suburb of Howrah (India) as part of joint family.  Diwali means lighting up diyas, fire crackers with family and friends and indulge with different types of food and sweets. 


Biswa Bhattacharya

Biswa Bhattacharya lives in Lexington MA with his wife Swapna and daughter Roshni. For living, Biswa runs several initiatives around Data Analytics and Business Intelligence globally for a reputed management consulting company. Once an aspiring alley ("gali") cricketer from his native place, turned into an avid follower of the games like cricket, football (American), soccer and Tennis. Whenever he could manage balancing his work and life, you will find him either playing Tennis or taking Golf lessons besides organizing and supporting community events.

An immigrant from India, who was born in Assam and grew up in Bihar, Diwali means a lot to him. Besides being a festival of light and crackers, it gives him a strong reason to reunite with friends and family. Certainly an occasion to sail down memory lane!

Sanjay Chatterjee

Sanjay Chatterjee lives with his wife, Ananya Chatterjee, in Bedford in the beautiful state of New Hampshire. They have a son, Arinjay, who likes to do outdoor activities. For work, Sanjay manages a Digital Sensor group in a semiconductor company that develops sensors for mostly automotive industry. He loves to bike and play tennis. Ananya is a senior Financial Analyst in Banking industry.

Sanjay grew up in Rourkela, a Steel town in Orissa, in a diverse community. Diwali was his favorite festival as he used to help his dad make anaars(fountain) from the scratch and watch how tall it goes. Maybe that’s the spirit he wants to see shared among kids while celebrating Diwali here in US.


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