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Home >> Brahmo Samajes >> Shillong Brahmo Samaj
TheShillong Brahmo Samaj Shillong Brahmo Samaj has been in existence for 130 years and is one of the oldest in North East India. Established on 8 November 1874, soon after the formation of the Chief Commissionership of Assam in Shillong. Initially, the Brahmos numbered around 25, most of them well-placed government servants who hailed from Sylhet and neighbouring districts in Bengal.

Raj Chandra Choudhury and his wife Hemant Kumari Choudurani were among the early members, and were instrumental in setting up the Mahila Samity and a library on Jail Road. This was later shifted to the premises of the Khasi Hills Brahmo Samaj in Laban.

Other early Brahmos involved in the formation of the Samaj in the 1870s were Rai Bahadur Prakash Chandra Deb, Brajendra Nath Sen, Aukhoy Kumar Chatterjee, Sadaya Chandra Das and Rai Bahadur Sivanath Dutta.

It was strongly felt that a separate wing be set up to educate and preach to the Khasi people in and around Shillong, and so a Khasi mission was established to bring the Khasis into the fold of the Brahmo Samaj. Nilmani Chakraborty was appointed by the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj in Calcutta and he literally pitched his tent in Cherrapunjee. There he remained for years, educating, preaching and dispensing homoeopathic treatment to people with remarkable success.

Nilmani Chakraborty later took assistance from the Shillong Brahmo Samaj as well as two Khasi Brahmos, Radon Sing Berry and Job Solomon to construct the Mawkhar Brahmo Samaj. Babu Jeebon Roy took an active interest too in the building of this Samaj and provided much needed assistance.

At the turn of the century the Brahmo Samaj was not only well-established in the Khasi Hills and among the Khasi people, but had also attracted the Assamese intelligentsia, Gunabhiram Barooah being one of the most ardent of followers. At this time the Brahmo Samaj had also built links with the Unitarian Church which had also 'arrived' in the Khasi Hills. The fairly substantial number of Brahmos prompted the local government to declare the llth day of the month of Magh as a holiday for Brahmos to celebrate and partake in their annual socio-religious festival known as Maghotsav.

In the later years, Brahmos in Shillong had members such as Leela Roy, Sharada Manjari Dutta, Suvarna Prava Das - then the second woman graduate of Assam, being instrumental in helping to establish the Jail Road Girls School, the Lady Keane Girls School and College (shifted from its first premises on Jail Road), Laban Bengali Girls School, Rammohun Mahila Samity and a library run by ladies of the Khasi Brahmo Samaj, Laban.

Knitting machines were purchased for vocational training of women to provide them avenues of self-employment. Women of the Samity also carried out a movement to close liquor dens in the residential locality of Laban. Another Brahmo lady, Sushila Sen, rose to be the Inspector of Schools. Binod Behari Roy - Leela Roy's husband - compiled a book of hymns in Khasi called "Ki Jingrwai Ainguh Blei" in 1935, published by the Ri Khasi press.

Khasi Brahmos made their contribution to the furtherance of the Brahmo cause. Mrs Philemon in Cherrapunjee, U Dori Roy of Nongjri and U Ibis Mohon Roy of Sohbar distinguished themselves in service. Brahmo 8amaj mandirs could be found in Mawphlang, Cherrapun-jee, Sohra, Shohbor and Mawsmai as well as Sasarat, Kong Helimon Khong-pai, who had been specially chosen by Nilmani Chakraborty for higher studies in Dacca and Calcutta, remained an associate long after her teaching days in Jail Road Girls School.

Currently, the Shillong Brahmo Samaj is running a school for tiny tots, Rammohun Sishu Niketan. Attached to the Samaj is the Tagore Memorial Library with an inventory of over 35,000 books, several of them priceless and providing an excellent source of knowledge and reference for scholars and students.

From among the earliest settlers, the descendants of Brajendra Nath Sen, Rai Bahadur Sivanath Dutta, Sharda Manjari Dutta and Prashanta Kumar Roy continue to live in and maintain links with ShiIlong. The present members are developing a commercial complex with a view to rejuvenating the Samaj and reactivating the aims such as providing relief and assistance to students, the needy and the ailing.

With a few recent arrivals, the membership is also again on the slow but sure upward swing.