The Bengal Room am SEVA INDIA Festival 2018

It was the first festival of this kind:

It was a new spirit – a seed of Unity… ready to continue growing in spirals of Joy!

Such colourful diversity … India in Vienna… India in taste, sound, movement… Indo-european Co-learning in lectures, presentations, workshops… and, most of all, in the Heart!

One Room carried a special title „The Bengal Room“ (Bangla Ghor, বাংলা ঘর). It vibrated with inspiration, music, sharing… with a light structure and a lot of spontaneity!

Her Excellency, Mrs. Renu Pall, greets Bengal   

Kolkata meets Dhaka: Zaman and Ajoy

Hare Krishna!  Kirtan originated in Bengal!

Lectures on Bengal, Bengal Renaissance and Saints of Bengal, Bengali poets, musicians and textiles, the Sufi Spirit as well as questions of identity…


Lungi and Dhoti for men, Sari for ladies:

Music is our greatest common love!

Mixed marriage and friendship




(2 pictures „Bauliana“ have joined the pictures of Bangla Ghor as the Spirit brought us together only a week after the SEVA INDIA festival! :-))

And all this is just the beginning!



Ohne Dich



… will ich nicht leben!

Ohne Dich hab ich nichts zu geben.

Ohne Dich ist die Welt verdrossen.

Ohne Dich halt ich mein Herz verschlossen.


Regen gießt herab in Strömen

Endlich fließen auch die Tränen.


Auf einmal am Himmel ein Sonnenstrahl…

Ich an.erkenne meine freie Wahl!



Gehaßte Traurigkeit, weil damit allein

Wollt ich nie mehr traurig sein

Wollt mich nie mehr schwach

nie mehr sinn.ent.leert fühlen – wie jetzt.


Von Dir getrennt und damit tief verletzt

wählte ich zu leugnen

wie schmerzhaft doch…

Wählte ich Unterdrückung:

die Trauer unters Joch!


Trauer lebte in mir ver.gessen

Verfressen war ich

Wie besessen… nur nicht fühlen!


Zwischen Kopf

und Suppentopf


war das Leben leer



Und nun dieser Sonnenstrahl…


Was mach ich damit? Nehm ich ihn an?!

Fang ich irgendwann damit an,

mich meines Lebens zu erfreuen?

MEINES Lebens nämlich.

Meines Lebens MIT DIR so wie/ da wo Du bist?


Wähle ich nun,

Deine Wahl zu akzeptieren

Anstatt dagegen zu rebellieren?


Genüge ich mir allein

im Sein?


Lasse ich Dich gehen

um erneut (von Tränen erneuert)

mit dem Herzen zu sehen?


Die Sonne, die lacht,


gut mir tutet… 🙂


Dem Trotze zum trotz

ändere ich mein Verhalten

wähle eine andere Haltung

mit weniger Kotze.


Sagte ich anderen doch

„Mit Dir will ich nicht leben“


Sagte es in mir

„Ich habe nichts zu geben!“

Schaffte ich eine Welt ziemlich verdrossen

Hauptsache dabei keine Träne vergossen!


Ich wähle nun von dort zu gehen.

Ich wähle nun, den Ort zu sehen

an dem die Sonne scheint in meinem Herzen

und Trost mich findet in meinen Schmerzen.


Wähle das Ganze,

das echte Leben!

Ein Leben, in dem das „mit Dir“ auch „ohne Dich“ geht

Altes zusammenbricht und das „Wir“ aufrecht steht.


Sein heißt es nun.

Sein in Beziehung.

In Beziehung mit dem Leben.

dessen Blüte ich bin.

Lernen will ich

wie die Rose am Rosenstock:

Hat der Wind eine Knospe geknickt –

wütet die Blüte daneben?

Oder folgt sie weiter dem Leben

im Streben

nach Licht?

Sangita, 2.10.2018

Bangla Ghor meetings

The first and constitutory meeting of The Bengal Room (Bangla Ghor) is mentioned under „The origin of Bangla Ghor“ . It took place on 7th June 2018. Here is a short outline of how the Room developed in the following 3 months…


At the second meeting, on 26th July 2018, in the private home of Farzana, our attention focussed on the structure of a possible presentation at the SEVA INDIA festival. There was some discussion and finally singing. The next day, a rough outline of the festival programme was shared in the team by email.

Sangita invited to a picnic gathering at her house on 4th August 2018. There were a number of new comers: Swapna’s friend Nivedita (a Punjabi Bengal lover), three music students of Zannatul (Prosin, Rakibul and Rubel) and Sangita’s gardener Zaman as well as Austrian Mahotpala who had travelled to Bangladesh in 2012. We shared a picnic lunch and rehearsed some of the songs planned for the SEVA INDIA festival. After the main group left, Sangita, Swapna and Nivedita still enjoyed a movie on Lalon Fakir and discussed how to activate Indian Bengalis in Vienna. dav


Following Nivedita’s suggestion, a whatsapp group named “Bangla Ghor” was installed. This group enables a continuous sharing of personal news, group information and pictures.

At the Bangla Ghor meeting on 14th August 2018 at the venue of the SEVA INDIA Festival, Nivedita and Swapna jointly presented a lecture on the “Bengal Renaissance”. The initial idea was to work together at improving the lecture. What actually happened was that people came into the room and joined the discussion, shared their personal stories for instance about questions of belonging and identity .This is how Neelam and Sabine R. joined the group.

Following Independence Day at the Indian Embassy of Vienna, the number of participants in the whatsapp group further increased.

Taniya and Sangita had their first meeting at Handelskai – the „Danube Ghat“ – there was an invisible touch of „Ma Ganga“ in this atmosphere…

On Saturday, 25th August, Swapna invited Bangla Ghor for lunch to her home! She had written and sent out a short text on “Bengali cuisine” and we agreed that such a subject needed to be put into practice! 😉


Illish mach, begun bhaja, ucche, lao, tomatoe chutney and rosgolla in khir make every Bengali’s mouth water … 9 people shared the delight – contributing home cooked dishes, organic vegetables or joining in for the cooking.


After the meal, we sat in a circle and elaborated on what Bangla Ghor may still offer in future. We gathered the following passions and suggestions:

  • Bengali language, Bengali literature, Bengali Films
  • Music – Rabindranath Thakur, Kavi Nazrul Islam and Lalon Fakir
  • Lectures and discussions: e.g. Bengal Renaissance (“Brahmo Samaj”),  Bhakti movement, Social issues (Women, Marriage, Families, Children, Education…)
  • Sharing of stories and experiences
  • Sharing devotion – Saints of Bengal:  Chaitanya Mahaprabu, Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda, Lahiri Mahasaya, Paramahansa Yogananda, Sri Anandamoyi Ma, Sri Aurobindo, Sri Chinmoy
  • Celebration of festivities like Rabindranath’s birthday
  • Satsang with guests from Bengal
  • Kirtan and
  • BAUL Spirit

Belur OM.jpg

On 7th September, there was another meeting of Bangla Ghor at the festival venue. Amita Nathwani introduced us to the Devayana, the third Indian epos which was written down in Bengali script through a disciple of Sri Aurobindo. Amita worked at the transliteration of this epos into Devanagri script for the last 20 years of her life and at this meeting, she emphasized the message it had for Bengal:

The place where Deva the Truth would manifest is Vanga (Bengal) when she is whole, without fissure and division in her body…”!

Who is in The Bengal Room?

dav           dav

Let me introduce a few of us:

Swapna Mitra: “Namaste. Born in Kolkata, I grew up in North India. My father being army doctor, I moved from town to town – Vienna is the first city I actually settled in, meanwhile for over 40 years! In this city I feel the world is coming to me! Not only due to my work in the hotel branch… My mother’s roots lie in a village which today is part of Bangladesh.”

Neelam Cintury: “Namaste. I am from Sikkim, 22nd state of INDIA. I did my BA and MA from the University of North Bengal. Love Bengali food, culture and language.”

Nivedita Kumar: “Namaste. I am from Punjab. I found my connection to Bengal through my neighbourhood in India – my playmates, friends, schoolmates. Our next door neighbour was a Bengali teacher, she taught me Bengali initially. Hence, I developed affinity for this beautiful, lyrical language. It is often compared to French amongst European languages.”

Sabine Mahotpala Paal: “Namaste. I am disciple of Sri Chinmoy and I travelled to Bangladesh in 2012 in order to meet and organise gatherings with the Bangladeshi members of our spiritual family. To be quite honest, I had a hard time and don’t feel very enthousiastic about the cooperation between us.”

Sabine Rosenkranz-Frömmel: “Namaste. I am a teacher of Arts and Philosophy at Austrian Grammar School. I have travelled India a lot and I speak Hindi. I am interested to get to know more about Bengal.”

Zannatul Farhad: I am from Bangladesh and I organise cultural programs with Bengali classical and folk music and dance. I used to teach Bengali language at Vienna international school.

Farzana Farhad: I am in a team with my mother Zannatul to promote Bengali culture in Vienna. I give lectures on various topics and sing Rabindra sangeet with passion.

The origin of Bangla ghor


This idea was initiated by Sangita Ariane, a half-Bengali half-German woman who was born and raised in Vienna. Approaching her 50s, she realised how much she had missed in years of Western conditioning and she travelled to stay for several months in Kolkata and other places in Bengal that connected her to her family roots and Bengali heart. The first journey in 2016/17 was followed by subsequent visits in 2017/18 and 2018/19 (planned).

Apart from learning her father tongue, she got in touch with her “Bengali brothers and sisters” riding public busses and local trains in Kolkata. She lived with the BAUL community and found the spirit of national poet Rabindranath Tagore in Santiniketan. She was obviously fed with Bengali cuisine and attended traditional classical concerts like for instance an all-night boithak.


Living in her ancestral home in a village near Jhargram, Medinapur, she joined not only several religious festivities, but most of all, the heart of so-called “common people”. She got a taste of social work at the mission of Mother Theresa and visited various other projects addressing issues of indigenous people, women, children and organic farming.

In April 2018, for the first time not only in her personal history, but possibly in her entire family history, she crossed the border to Bangladesh and was led to the village and birth house of her Indian grandfather! This was all the more impressing, as it was not actually planned, but came about in a spirit of spontaneity, heartfelt devotion and passionate cooperation. Sangita was touched deeply by something familiar and yet different to anything she had experienced so far.

Back in Vienna, she searched for the Bengali community and found it in individuals westernised to a high degree (like she had been), segregated in private homes, dispersed and disputed amongst eachother. Also, the Bengalis from Bangladesh lived and gathered separately. Sangita painfully noticed a high degree of mistrust, old unconcealed hurt, ignorance and resignation blocking the heart of Bengalis towards themselves and their people.

Bangla Ghor meetings

The very first meeting of Bangla Ghor took place on 7th June 2018 in Vienna.


In the rooms of a Pakistani restaur ant with a Bangladeshi waiter, Zannatul and Farzana from Bangladesh, Swapna from Kolkata, her friend Archna from Delhi and half Bengali Sangita met in a very joyful spirit.

Sangita shared news from her time in Bengal and announced the option to present Bangla Ghor at an upcoming event called the SEVA INDIA Festival. It was agreed that this core team should attract other members from their respective communities, to spread the news of Bangla Ghor and of the Seva India festival and to continue meeting regularly.

The Bengal Room – Bangla Ghor বাংলা ঘর

Based in Vienna, Bangla Ghor is … a peace initiative … a healing space… for the Heart of Bengalis … independantly which country they originate from … half  Bengalis and second generation Bengalis … Austrian Bengal travellors and lovers.



Mission of Bangla Ghor:

We explore and cultivate the love which Bengalis have in common.

There is a sensation of heartfelt togetherness, joy and inspiration…

… at the bottom of any Bengali Heart… simplicity and humanity … the hidden pearl of Bengal.


Keywords of  Bengal love:

Rabindranath Thakur, Santiniketan, Kavi Nazrul Islam, Lalon Fakir, BAULs

Bengali language, fine art, music, poetry, literature and dance

Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Brahmo Samaj, Bengali Renaissance, Bhakti movement

Saints of Bengal:  Chaitanya Mahaprabu, Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda, Lahiri Mahasaya, Paramahansa Yogananda, Sri Anandamoyi Ma, Sri Aurobindo, Sri Chinmoy

Bengali films, Satyajit Ray


Bengali food: illish mach, ucche bhaja, begun bhaja,  chutney, dohi, mishti