Bengalis of Grand Rapids…a growing, vibrant community
History of the first “Grand Rapids Bengali community event” dates back to 2004 when the Bengali association in Detroit donated their“Durga” deity to the Roy family in Grand Rapids. The deity was brought to Grand Rapids on October 24 and the first “Durga Puja” was held on October 31, 2004 at the Roy’s residence. The puja was open to the entire Indian community in Grand Rapids and the participation at this auspicious event was phenomenal. Puja was performed with the traditional sound of the “Dhak”, “Kansar ghanta” and “Shankho”. Local Bengali families helped with the decoration, puja and logistics of the ceremony. Durga Puja was followed by “Bisharjan”, “Sindoor Khela” and “Bijoya Sanmelan” festivities.
Due to the immense popularity of the very first “Durgotsav”, it was decided to move the next Durga puja to a public venue. Consequently, other Bengali festivities like “Saraswati Puja”, “Poila Boisakh”, and “Kali Puja” started to be celebrated by the growing Bengali community in Grand Rapids.
From 2004 to date, several families moved in and out of Grand Rapids and slowly the “informal Bengali community” was transformed into a structured non-profit organization known as Western Michigan Bengali Cultural Association (WMBCA) in September 2012.
The community continues to cherish the “Bong connection” by celebrating the religious festivals of Durga Puja, Kali Puja and Saraswati Puja; enjoying the summers in Michigan at an outdoor picnic escapade; indulging in a cultural extravaganza to celebrate Poila Boisakh; servicing the larger community of Michigan with charitable services & donations; and nurturing well-balanced, exemplary new generations, who will continue to be role models to enrich the world further.
Proud to be a Bengali!