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A Sketch of Saikat’s 30 years long Journey
Saikat, as an organization, has grown through the first phase of adulthood-that is 30 years. There is a tale that, in early 1984, a couple of Bengali residents in San Diego (there were only a few at that time-Dipak and Munia Gupta, Joy and Supriya Moitra, Dev Purakayastha, Kamalendu, and Pratima Ganguly) thought of having a Saraswati puja but could not find an idol. They decided to worship the idol attached to the keychain of Joy. Kamalenduda was the priest for the puja in Dev’s house. It was thought that the idol should be immersed (“Bisharjan”) in a teacup or in the kitchen sink so that Joy could retrieve his keychain later. This mini event marked the first inspiration for what will be coming.
Two years later few more enthusiastic Bengali came. Among them were, Nemai and Anusuya Pyne, Sukumar Banerjee and Shankar Chatterjee. Gujrat-born Shabda Roy was in San Diego but he was then more of a Gujrati than a Bengali. Eventually, Shabdada was persuaded to join the Bengali crowd and, in 1986, that small crowd got together to conceive the thought of forming a Bengali organization. Among them were Partha Sarathi Majumdar, Dipak Gupta, Niladri Sarkar, Tamal Dasgupta, Joy Moitra, Kamalendu Ganguly, Shankar Chatterjee, and Shabda Roy. Later meetings also included Nemai Pyne and Dev Purakayastha. By the time name, “Saikat” (proposed by Shankar) and the logo (initially designed by Sanjukta Dasgupta and Shankar, and later, modified by Sushil Mahata) were adopted and some legal paperwork was completed, it was 1987. That was the official birth year of Saikat. In 2020, Saikat is 33 years old. Two tireless and devoted leaders of Saikat were Shabda Roy and Nemai Pyne who nurtured Saikat like parents of a baby. Alas, both passed away and are no more with us, but their spirit remains as inspiration. First Saraswati Puja was held in 1988 with a formal idol brought from Kolkata and, in the same year, Nemai Pyne applied for IRS registration and gaining tax-exempt status. The official IRS approval of 501c3 status came in February 1989. A provisional constitution was adopted in the 1990s, but an amended version was adopted in 2002 and was made effective retroactively from 2000. The constitution was further amended in 2010 and 2017. The presidents of Saikat were (1) Shabda Roy, (2) Sukumar Banerjee, (3) Shabda Roy (he was president twice), (4) Anusuya Pyne, (5) Sushil Mahata, (6) Pijush Dewanjee, (7) Easeeta Ray Chowdhury, (8) Gautam Bandyopadhyay, (9) Saswata Talukdar & Rajib Sengupta (they split the time as Saswata had to leave San Diego for a professional reason), (10) Rudranil DebRoy (he served for 3 years), (11) Shantanu Sinha, (12) Anuradha De, (13) Debopriya Chowdhury, and (14) Abhikesh Nag. The current acting president is (15) Dhrubamitra Chatterjee
Over the last 32 years, the Saikat community has swelled in numbers. Saikat now has a sound financial foundation. However, the most important thing at this time is, despite the growth in numbers, the organization remained as the one and unified entity and committed to providing a homely atmosphere in the event-gatherings. We all wish to continue this tradition.
(The above content has been kindly contributed by our very dear Gautam-da in 2020)