The Federation Hall Society
The year 1905 was one of the memorable years in the history of Bengal in particular and India in general. Hitherto, the Indian political movements were mainly based in a liberal viewed platform, the leadership was accustomed to approach the alien government for mitigating their political, educational and other important grievances in a ‘Begger’s Bowl’ by submitting moderately drafted application and supplication instead of a bold, assertive and active action demanding their rightful claims. But like a proverbial magical touch, the whole of atmosphere of the country changed, the pessimistic nature and ‘Jo Huzur’ approach of the leaders suddenly also changed their orientation from passive to active, not to pray but to demand.
When Lord Curzon was determined to the partition of the Bengal Presidency, backed up his sinister motive of “Divide And Rule” Policy, Rastraguru Surendra Nath Banerjee, Poet Rabindranath Tagore and other leaders of Bengal proposed the adoption of a number of measures to counter the pernicious act and ill-motivated sinister design to vivisect their dear motherland in two parts – one, on communal and a religions basis, affecting the educational, industrial and socio-political fields and the other, the most vital and important one was building of a The Federation Hall, ‘Akhanda Banga Bhawan’. This proposal was warmly supported by Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose, Tarak Nath Palit and Sister Nivedita. It was Sister Nivedita who preferred and proposed the name "Milan Mandir" instead of ‘Akhand Banga Bhwan’ under warm support from the Masses.
It was on the historic day of 16th OCTOBER 1905—(30th ASHWIN 1312 B.S.) when more than 50,000 Bengalis assembled at the very site, a 4 Bigha vacant plot, where the present building of our beloved The Federation Hall ("Milan Mandir" as given by Lokemata Nivedita) now stands, to raise their unite and vigorous voice of protest against the said vivisection of their dear MATRIBHUMI, through the thundering voice of their great leaders, who earlier formed an Anti-partition Committee. They were Sir Gooroodas Banerjee, Ananda Mohan Bose, Surendra Nath Banerjee, Ambica Charan Majumdar, Rabindranath Tagore, Rashbehari Ghosh, Motilal Ghosh, Maharaja Manindra Chandra Nandi, Maharaja Jagadindra Nath Ray of Natore, the noble Acharya Chowdhuris of Mymensingh, Abdul Rasul, Bhupendra Nath Basu, Ashwini Kumar Dutta, Krishna Kumar Mitra, Bramhabandhab Upadhyaya, Kaliprasanna Kavyabisharad, Nabab Attikulla of Dacca, Liaquat Hossain, Mujibar Rahaman, Sakharam Ganesh Deuskar, Abdul Halim Gaznavi,Sir Dr. Nilratan Sarcar, Prankrishna Acharya, Jagadish Chanrda Bose, P.C.Ray, Hirendra Nath Dutta, Bipin Chandra Pal and many others. The people of Bengal observed fasting on the 16th October. In Calcutta ‘mass-bathe’ in the Ganges in the early morning was taken place and tying of ‘Rakhi’ on each other’s wrists was celebrated and Calcutta observed complete Hartal on that day. The members of Vandemataram Sampradaya sang patriotic songs parading through the streets and people from all directions formed disciplined processions and proceeded towards the very site at 294, Upper Circular Road, Garpar, where the ceremony of laying the foundation stone of the proposed The Federation Hall - the visible symbol of the spirit of union, the remembrance to the future generation was to be laid. ..
Before laying of the Foundation Stone of proposed The Federation Hall, president Ananda Mohan Basu addressing a vast gathering said “Let every brick of this building bear testimony to the devotion and patriotic ardor of our people. Let us remember that here shall be formed integrating influences of a divided interest. This hall will be a place where all that moulds and forms of a growing nation, all that uplift and regenerate the national character and train it up to true manhood, and every noble impulse shall always find their place, and at its shrine shall come, as for worship, every member of the Bengalee Nation. It will be a temple raised in honour of our Motherland not only for a national union, but also for national progress. The Federation Hall will, I trust be a place of all our national gathering and in its rooms will hold social reunions and meetings for different purposes. There will be room for gymnasiums, room for a library of reference, and of useful publication, and for newspapers, classes for singing of National songs and for recitation and cultivation of all that promotes a spirit of patriotism, of self-sacrifice, and true cultural Accommodation. I hope such accommodation will in time be provided for visitors of other parts of Bengal and it may be of India”. The indissoluble entity that will bond the eastern and western parts of Bengal was to take place at 3.30 P.M. A spacious ‘shamiyana’ was erected under which seats for about 2000 people were provided and outside it, every available inch of space on all sides was occupied, overflowing the Upper Circular Road. The meeting started with singing of ‘Vandemataram’ by Hem Chandra Sen and ‘Ebar Tor Mara Gangey Baan Esechhe Jai Maa Bole Vassao Tori’ in chorus by the members of Vande Mataram Sampradai. Sir Gooroodas Banerjee in an eloquent and impressive speech in Bengali explained the essence of building The Federation Hall and proposed that Ananda Mohan Bose should lay the Adharshila and chair the meeting. This proposal was carried with acclamation. But Ananda Mohan, who was in a very poor health, and had to be carried to the dais in a sedan chair, spoke a few words in Bengali, saying that he has literally quitted an invalid’s bed to attend the meeting, in a chocked voice which almost sounded like a voice from the grave. He agreed to lay the foundation stone but declined to preside over owing to illness and requested Surendra Nath to read out the address for him. Surendra Nath then read out, “ That The Federation Hall, the foundation stone of which is being laid today, not only on this spot of land, but on our moistened and tearful hearts, is the embodiment and visible symbol of years the hope expressed by Anandamohan, was going to be fulfilled”. The whole project was then substantially but not completely materialized.
During the turbulent years (phase-wise from 1905 to 1911, 1912 to 1940, 1941 to 1946, 1947 to 1956 and onwards ) of the country’s freedom movement of political agitations and economic boycotts with the prominent leaders completely pre-occupied, a period of respite fell on all thoughts of creating a hall of unity of The Federation Hall Society. It was left to one man, Dr. Pramatha Nath Banerjea, M.A. D.sc. (London), ex- Minto professor of Economics, Calcutta University and ex-member of Central Legislative Assembly to pilot the project. Besides, fresh cause of action accrued in favour of the erection of The Federation Hall after a disastrous partition of Bengal and consequent upon possession of land-recovery with a great deal of effort of Dr. Pramatha Nath Banerjea towards the end of 1953. Dr. Banerjee took unprecedented initiative in collecting subscription and donation from friends, acquaintances and also from the members of the public and even from his ex-students, many of whom were in responsible position and who were not sluggish to respond. He found enthusiasm in some youths and received their unstinted loyalty and help. He along with active co-operation of Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy, Biswanath Banerjee, Bhupendra Nath Ghoshal, Jnananjan Pal, Rabindra Chandra Ghosh, Dwijendra Kumar Sanyal, Jyotish Chandra Roy, Animesh Chandra Roychaudhuri, Bimal C. Ray, Sankar Dasghosh, Satish Chandra Ghosh, Anath Nath Roy took the initiative to erect a four-storied building abutting on what is now known as Acharya Prafulla Chandra Road (formerly Upper Circular Road) so that Anandamohan’s dream could come true.
During the presidency of Justice Dr. Radha Binod Pal, Justice Phanibhusan Chakrabortti the remaining construction was done and in recent years during the tenure of Kamal Kumar Basu as president of the Society, the additional construction of the second floor was completed along with the extension of the building on the east.
The Federation Hall is thus a sacred Trust. It has a threefold object in view : first to foster unity among the Bengali-speaking people as well as among the entire populations in India; secondly, to establish friendly relations between India and the other countries of the World; and thirdly, it provides an important center for serious study and research in regard of economics, cultural and administrative problems on a sound and constructive basis, and above all, it will function as a memorial to the great leaders of the Swadeshi Movement.
The Federation Hall Society was a mission to fulfill. The soul of India is made of composite culture. The keynote of which says “Udara Charitaraam Vasudhaibha Kutumkum” ( to a Noble Soul the whole of Human race is bonded in Blood relation). The real culture of India enriches the mind, elevates the sprits and enables the hearts. That’s why The Federation Hall echoes the prayer of poet Tagore – “Let the Bengal’s hand give more strength to India’s hand and Let the message of Bengal make truthful the voice of India”. And this is the GOLDEN COURSE of a man making religion.
The Society has a number of portraits, busts of great religious leaders and eminent nation builders in its Art Gallery. Meetings are held to discuss the issues of social concerns. Seminars on urgent topics and orations in memory of past presidents of the Society and of National Leaders are held for cultural uplift of members and common people of the society.
The Edifice itself as well as the Ideology of The Federation Hall Society deserve perpetuation through ages for instilling and recalling the sense of wisdom and patriotism in the minds and hearts of generations to be born. Accordingly, the Society solicits the favour of all good Samaritans worldwide to come forward for its advancement