Sandesh (magazine)

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Sandesh June 1988 front cover
Sandesh June 1988 front cover
Editor Upendra Kishore Roychowdhury, Sukumar Ray, Subinoy Ray, Satyajit Ray, Subhash Mukhopadhyay (poet), Leela Majumdar, Nalini Das, Bijoya Ray, Sandip Ray
Categories Children's magazine
Frequency Monthly
Year founded 1913
Country India
Language Bengali

Sandesh (Bengali: সন্দেশ, Shôndesh) is a Bengali children's magazine. The periodical was first published by Upendrakishore Raychowdhury in 1913 through his publishing company, M/s U. Ray and Sons. The magazine was first published from its office in 22, Sukeas Street. Subsequently the office and the press were shifted to the new building built by Upendrakishore at 100, Garpar Road. Upendrakishore's son Sukumar Ray went to Great Britain for advanced training in printing technology, and he joined as an active partner after his return from abroad.(1)

After the death of Upendrakishore Roychowdhury in 1915, his eldest son Sukumar Ray succeeded as the editor of the magazine in 1915. The Sukumar Ray years established "Sandesh" as a unique magazine that combined literary values with humour and fun and a lot of information from different parts of the world.(1)(2)

In 1923, Sukumar's younger brother Subinoy took the charge after the death of Sukumar Ray. However the publication of the magazine was stopped in 1925.

Revival of the magazine[edit]

In 1929 it was revived by the publisher who had purchased the machinery of Upendrakishore's firm. Subinay Ray remained one of the editors in this period too. In 1934 it again ceased publication.

The third and current phase of the magazine[edit]

In 1961, the magazine was revived under the editorialship of Satyajit Ray and Subhas Mukhopadhyay. Many of Satyajit Ray's writings were first published in this magazine. One of his most famous stories for the magazine was Bankubabur Bandhu (Banku Babu's Friend or Mr. Banku's Friend), a Bengali science fiction story he had written in 1962 and which gained popularity among Bengalis in the early 1960s. Ray also introduced his famous characters Feluda and Professor Shonku in short stories he wrote for Sandesh.(1)(2)

From 1963, Satyajit's aunt, the writer Leela Majumdar became the honorary joint editor of the magazine in place of Sri Mukhopadhyay. From 1963 Satyajit Ray formed a non-profit literary co-operative, "Sukumar Sahitya Samavaya Samity Ltd.", and since then this Co-operative has been running the magazine.

From 1974, Satyajit's cousin Ms Nalini Das became honorary joint editor of the magazine, and she was in effect the Executive Editor of the magazine in this period, while her husband Asokananda Das was the honorary Publisher. In 1992-93, the magazine faced a crisis when Satyajit Ray, Nalini Das and Asokananda Das all died within a period of 14 months. From 1994, Leela Majumdar also became too ill to be able to continue as the Executive Editor.

From 1993-94, Sandip Ray, son of Satyajit Ray, became the Joint Editor of the magazine and Amitananda Das, son of Nalini Das became the Publisher. But the inexperienced team could not meet the challenge of the changing times—due to the competition from comics, TV, cable TV, and books with coloured illustrations; the total circulation of children's magazines dropped steadily in this period. "Sandesh" remained a Black & White magazine, and it was a struggling one, incurring losses and skipping issues.

In 2003, The Ford Foundation gave a grant to "Sandesh" to make the magazine viable.{3} Due to administrative failure of the co-operative, though the magazine had many coloured pages and became much more attractive visually; it was not viable financially. Between July 2005 and April 2006, the magazine missed several issues, and since May 2006 it skipped four issues.

In August 2006, a new attempt was made to revive the magazine.{4} Since then the magazine is being published regularly but somewhat irregularly. Every year the Saradiya Annual number has over 300 pages and the literary quality of the stories and other contributions are generally highly appreciated. In the last two years, however, the magazine could publish only three issues per year—each issue having 96 to 160 pages.

Centenary Year in 2013[edit]

The year 2013 is the centenary year of the founding of the magazine by Upendrakishore Raychowdhury. It is also his 150th birth anniversary since he started the magazine when he was fifty years old.(5)(6) The "Nababarsha" (Bengali New Year) special issue of Sandesh is being published in the 2nd week of May 2013 as a special issue commemorating the 150th birth anniversary of Upendrakishore.

The 300-page Saradiya Annual issue to be published in September/October 2013 will also have a special section with articles about the centenary.

The centenary of "Sandesh" is to be celebrated between 28 and 31 December 2013 by a special exhibition to be held at "Nandan" and other functions including film shows etc. A special issue of "Sandesh" celebrating the Centenary Year will be published in December.


(1) Robinson, Andrew, "Satyajit Ray: The Inner Eye", Andre Deeutsch Ltd., Great Britain, 1989. Page 22-23, 28-29 (illustrations 6 & 14), 297.

(2) (Googlebooks view of page 297 of reference (1).

(3) (Newspaper coverage in March 2003).

(4) (Newspaper coverage in October 2007).

(5) (Newspaper coverage in April 2013 about the centenary of "Sandesh")

(6) (Newspaper coverage in April 2013).