Bengal Bratachari Society
After becoming an I.C.S. Officer - meant to serve the British Administration in India as a top grade Officer - Shri Gurusaday Dutt had adopted every bit of the British life style and it was his wife Shrimati Saroj Nalini Dutt, who opened Shri Dutt’s eyes towards the fabulous heritage of his Motherland and made him readopt the Bengali Lifestyle. After the demise of Shrimati Saroj Nalini Dutt, Shri Gurusady Dutt formed in 1925 - the 'Saroj Nalini Dutt Memorial Association', which was meant to uplift the condition of Bengali destitute widows and other poor women of Bengal and also to enlighten the womenfolk of Bengal towards the rich heritage. This was indeed the beginning of his long association with Bengali heritage activities and other social work.

In view of the immense value and potentialities of our rural heritage lying scattered here and there in the region, Gurusaday Dutt, I. C. S., established ‘Palli Sampad Raksha Samiti’ (literally meaning – Association for protecting the local heritage) in the year 1931, during his tenure as the District Magistrate of Birbhum – a district in the present West Bengal, for collection, preservation and nourishment through the practices of rural folk arts & crafts of undivided Bengal (which partitioned to become the present Bangladesh & the state of West Bengal in India). He started organizing exhibitions in different places including at Calcutta. However, this Samiti (or Association) was converted into the Bengal Bratachari Society in 1935.

In the year 1931, Shri Gurusaday Dutt, for the first time organized a training camp of folk songs and dances of Bengal. He also organized training camps every year in different places of Bengal to promote the rare varieties of folk songs & dances. The names of these training camps were ‘Nikhil Banga Loka Nrittya Sibir’ (in English it means – All Bengal Folk Dance Camp).

Shri Gurusaday Dutt, being the head of the district administration organized a training camp in 1933 at Suiri, the district head quarter of Birbhum. As a matter of fact, he felt that those who would take the training of folk songs and dances would be energised to take vows in their mind – like the womenfolk used to perform some ‘brata’ - meaning ‘taking vows’ in English, to carry the tradition of the folk songs and dances for the benefit of their own and even for the people in their village society as well as for the posterity. Keeping this in his mind, Guruji – as his disciples used to address Shri Gurusaday Dutt – introduced the word ‘Bratachari’ (where the Bengali word - Brata meaning taking vows as the objective and ‘chari’ - meaning the practice), a folk movement taken up by the youth at the same level of sincerity, honesty and zeal with which the womenfolk of Bengal practiced their religious rites i.e., Bratas for the betterment of the family members. Later, he incorporated this term in 1935, when he established the ‘Bengal Bratachari Society’.

The aims & objectives of the ‘Bengal Bratachari Society’ is still to popularise the spirit of National consciousness for becoming a good citizen by means of educative training of physical, mental and universal fraternity through the practice of the traditional folk songs and dances of Bengal.

Shri Gurusaday Dutt published a Bengali monthly journal named ‘Banglar Sakti’ (meaning the Power of Bengal in English). He purchased 101 Bighas of land at Joka, near Calcutta, in the district of South 24 Parganas of undivided Bengal and named the place as ‘Bratacharigram’ or Bratachari Village, with a view to set-up a permanent Camp to promote the cultural heritage of Bengal. He also envisioned to establish educational insititutions; parmanent vaocational training centres and a folk museum as well as an University to study Folk Culture, thereby by energising the youth to carry on the tradition of Bengal Heritage. He wanted that there shall be global exchange of views on Universal Heritage - which is now a much talked international issue. Even there were was a Centre for studying Chinese language, which had to be closed down in the eary seventies, due to lack of fund. Even after the death of Shri Dutt, the Bengal Bratachari Society has been organizing training camps till today. The Annual Bratachari Training Camp is held regularly in the last week of December every year, where participants from the neighbouring countries also take part.

In the year 1961, the Bengal Bratachari Society constructed a Museum Building at the Bratacharigram, to house the folk and tribal art collected personally by Guruji – which was inaugurated by Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy, the then Chief Minister of West Bengal. To pay Homage to Guruji, the Museum was named as Gurusaday Museum, which was declared open to the general public on 8th February 1963 by Professor Humayun Kabir, the then Union Minister of Education, Government of India, New Delhi.

Click on the pictures below to enlarge

A folk dance (Raibense) training camp Girls practising in the 2006 winter camp
Participants in the 2006 winter camp Participants in the 2006 winter camp
The regular winter training camps are held at the Bratacharigram, Joka, every year.
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