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Posts Tagged ‘calcutta’

Every one looks forward to Christmas, the colorful festival on the 25th of December which heralds the birth of Jesus Christ in a manger. This is one festival which is celebrated by almost everyone who takes pride in putting up a Christmas tree and decorating it with lots of lovely bells and stars. Gifts for the entire family and friends are packed and kept under this tree and given away on the 25th. This season also brings out many small and large choir groups who sing songs and carols at public gatherings across the city.

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This year, Christmas season is special for Bangaloreans with St Mark’s Cathedral, the landmark building on MG Road celebrating its bicentennial year. This striking building built in Victorian style was founded in 1808 was modeled on the lines of London’s 17th century St. Paul’s Cathedral and was consecrated in 1816 by the Bishop of Calcutta. The church is named after St. Mark, one of the 12 disciples of Jesus Christ, who was believed to have been the first Gospel writer. It was initially meant for worship by high ranking British officers and later civilians were allowed. Even today, a joint service is held every November by chiefs of staff of the Army, Navy and Air Force on Remembrance Day and this is a very colorful and solemn service.

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As you enter this beautiful colonial structure, you will find a graceful dome over a semicircular chancel that transports you almost immediately into tranquility. The stained glass windows, marble altar, imposing pillars within and the porch of grand columns, richly carved doors and gilded stars decorating it on the inside, make for a perfect place for worship. The compound also boasts of numerous plants and fruit bearing trees along with a small fountain which adds to the beauty of this place. If you haven’t visited this place yet, you are missing something.

Rev Vincent Rajkumar, the Presbyter of the cathedral, says that the cathedral, which started out as an Anglican church, had become part of the Church of South India (CSI) in 1947 and in 1961 it became the Mother Church of Karnataka Central Diocese.

St. Mark’s Cathedral with its stylish address of #1, MG Rd, has become quite a draw among the city’s musicians too, thanks to its fabled pipe organ which is the largest in South India. Installed in 1920, the magnificent instrument was in a state of disrepair for several decades. The cathedral started using it again after a team of Swedish experts repaired it at a cost of Rs. 50 lakhs. Churches like St. George’s Cathedral and St. Andrew’s Church in Chennai have taken inspiration and have started restoring their pipe organs too!

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The church is processing a proposal with the Postal department for Commemorative stamps. The Reverend is planning big, hoping the President will grace the culmination of the celebration. For more information, please visit the Cathedral’s website at www.saintmarks.in

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Come October and you’ll see people scrambling to board any kind of transport just to get to their hometown for their festival. This time we got an opportunity to witness Durga Puja, one of the biggest festivals for bongs in India and across the globe. We went out of our territory this time to witness this much talked about festival in Kolkata.
Kaafila new afghani restaurant at Salt Lake

Kaafila new afghani restaurant at Salt Lake

Was lucky to get flight tickets during this season and as we entered the city, the whole place was abuzz with activites. Every area was busy preparing for the main event which would start from the 6th of Oct and traffic was chaotic with people running around for last min shopping. In the bargain we managed quite a bit of shopping ourselves and eating out at interesting restaurants. One restaurant i must mention is this afghani place called Kaafila in City Centre Mall at Salt Lake where we gorged on some awesome mutton dishes accompanied by traditional afghani roties.
Pandal at Salt Lake

Pandal at Salt Lake

But the highlight of the entire trip was the pandal hopping at nite. I was lucky to visit most of them one day before the actual puja and was amazed with the sights that i got to see. Months of planning and lakhs of rupees were spent to put up these beautiful structures across town. The only sad part being that these structures would be pulled down within a week.
Streets at nite during Durga Puja

Streets at nite during Durga Puja

North Kolkata Pandal

North Kolkata Pandal

Well our journey started at 10pm on the Kolkata State Tourism Bus which took us from North Kolkata to parts of south covering some very famous pandals and negotiating chaotic traffic jams.. really pity the bus driver and appreciate his patience. We had to walk many distances in small by lanes to reach most of them but the sheer sight of these structures was worth all the inconvenience. I’ve posted a few pictures below which will give you an idea of the intensity and scale of these structures. However, sometime i wish they would spend this money on developing the infrastructure of the city or the poor who are living in pathetic conditions.
Another pandal in North Kolkata

Another pandal in North Kolkata

Pandal with wood work

Pandal with wood work

Pandal with claywork

Pandal with claywork

Decorations for a pandal

Decorations for a pandal

I’m glad i was a part of this years pujo celebrations but don’t think I’ll have the patience to do it again. Would rather have a quiet celebration at home with friends n relatives with a visit to one of the pandals.
Kolkata's age old tram service

Kolkata's Tram service

Kindly comment on your experiences and thoughts

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