India is a nation that proudly reflects unity in diversity. Acceptance of different religious practices and activities are ingrained in the nature of Indian culture. Although the dream of turning India into a secular nation was fraught with conflicts arising from different religious ideologies, it is a reality now.
Since time immemorial, numerous community based organizations operate across the country to bring the seemingly detached future generation closer to each other. Such initiatives are important as they not only strengthen the bond between people belonging to the same religious community but also serve the needy in ways more than one.
One such organisation is the Punjabee Bradree, a Punjabi organization based out of Calcutta. Located in the Shaheed Bhagat Singh Sarani and established in the year of 1967, they have evolved into a social and charitable organisation with time. The iconic Punjab bhawan, constructed in the early 70’s, has since then been used as a place to host different festivals such as Lohri, Basant, Gurupurab, Diwali, Holi and Janmashtami to name a few.
The journey of the Bradree over the last five decades have been studded with glorious achievements because of their unique way to expand the ambit of their bradree by accommodating youngsters through various fun filled activities and unhesitatingly connecting and empathising with those in need.
In a lasting desire to help others, the Bradree provides medical services at nominal cost in two poly clinics, one in Kolkata and the other in Howrah. Eminent doctors from various disciplines of Medicine, provide service for Eye, Cardiology, ENT, skin, orthopedic and even homeopathy to more than 15000 patients annually. It conducts a week long transit camp for the pilgrims of Ganga Sagar, where they are not only provided with food and shelter, but medical outposts are also set at the camp for help in case of an emergency. Besides these, the bradree has made notable contributions towards the victims of natural calamities.
Our efforts to promote social and charitable causes include distribution of gifts & sweets to a few orphanages during Diwali and Lohri,” says Neeraj Kapoor, Joint Secretary of the Punjabee Bradree. After completing his doctoral studies from Australia, Kapoor returned to India to work on his own ventures and for his community as well.
Neeraj, who is the director of Madona Group of Companies, a leading manufacturer of decorative paints & allied products in Eastern India, is focusing mainly on promoting brotherhood among Punjabis. Being associated with the organization for the past six years, Neeraj wants youngsters to join the community and take it forward. “The influx of young energy, youngblood and young perspective would definitely uphold what Bradree has been doing for years,” he added.
With a vision to carry on the pursuit of excellence, the organisation has planned to arrange indoor cricket and soccer leagues, launch their official newsletter ‘Chak De’, to reach out to more than 3000 members once every quarter.
In addition, it has plans to construct an Indoor sports arena at the Bhawan, introduce Inter Club tournaments, competitions with other leading sporting clubs of Kolkata and conduct more charitable activities including blood donation camps and get associated with a few NGO’s to help the underprivileged. As this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Bradree, they have planned to host these series of events in order to celebrate and pay tribute to all those who were essential in the functioning of the Bradree in the initial years.
As far as membership is concerned, the organization welcomes Punjabis from across the country to be a lifetime member charging a minimal fee per person. Apart from all charitable work and hosting ceremonial occasions, Punjabee Bradree runs a primary school named Lala LajpatRai School (LLR), located in Topsia, Kolkata.
“This school consists of nearly 160 - 170 students, who are provided with state of the art facilities and well established faculty members and we are extremely proud of this project as it reflects the grit and foresight of our Bradree leaders,” said Neeraj, who is a also an avid sportsman. He also said that this year they are going out and out on promoting the school as a part of their literacy drive.
Youngsters in the organisation have committed themselves to make it even more successful through concrete planning and welfare activities.
“Our new generation will rise to hold the mantle and carry forward the legacy, as we have many more miles to travel,” asserted Neeraj, while promising a better future for the Bradree.