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The Basilica of the Holy Rosary commonly known as Bandel Church is one of the oldest Christian Churches in India, situated in a small town “Bandel”, in Hoogly district of West Bengal. Now, Bandel is a suburban town of Calcutta which is well connected by local as well as Express train services from Howrah. It takes about one hour by local train.
This church stands as a memorial to the Portuguese settlement in Bengal. Founded in 1599, it is dedicated to Nossa Senhora do Rosário, Our Lady of the Rosary. It also serves as a Parish Church, ( means, in rural areas, the parish church may play a significant role in community activities, often allowing its premises to be used for non-religious community events.) It is one of the most prominent historical churches in West Bengal as well as in India.
Around the middle of the 16th century, the Portuguese began using Bandel as a port. During or around 1571, they were given permission by Akbar, the Mughal Emperor, to build a town in Hoogly. As they began settling around the area, their Priests began to baptise the natives – and by 1598, Catholics in Hooghly numbered around five thousand, including natives and mixed races.
In 1579, the Portuguese built a port on the banks of the River Hoogly, as well as a Fort. The following year, Captain Pedro Tavares obtained the emperor’s full permission to preach the Catholic faith publicly, and erect churches. Thus this Portuguese memorial was constructed in 1599, after a century of Vasco Da Gama landed in India, in 1498.
This first church was burnt down during the sacking of Hooghly by the Moors in 1632. A newer church, constructed by Gomez de Soto (also spelt John Comes de Soto), was built over the ruin in 1660. The key stone of the older church can still be seen on the eastern gate of the monastery, bearing the date 1599.
On November 25, 1988, Pope John Paul II declared the Bandel Church as a minor Basilica.
IT WAS A CELEBRATION OF FREEDOM :
At the midnight when the Union Jack was replaced with Indian Flag at Raj Bhavan, the atmosphere throbbed with ear shattering sounds of cheer and sloganeering. The gates of Raj Bhavan, Kolkata (then Calcutta) were thrown open for Indian for the first time. Enthusiastic crowds kept streaming into the mansion for the entire day. Many revelers had a hard time believing that the British had actually gone for good and were coming to Raj Bhavan just to check if the news was true.
While hundreds of people had free access to Raj Bhavan on that momentous day, one heartening memory is that nothing was damaged or stolen from the premise. Perhaps those were a people who knew that with freedom comes responsibility. Those were the times of honest , hardworking people who took the new-found independence very seriously . Things have gone sea change today.
(Source : Times of India of 17 Aug 09)
Politically active city Kolkata has seen many types of road blockades like by sitting on the roads, by organizing meetings and processions by different political parties to protest or to put forward their demands to the authority concerned. Now the city has seen a new kind of road blockade. Yesterday, one of the main roads of the main business centre of Kolkata, i.e. Dalhousie square (BBD Bag) area was blocked by two horses, leaving no place to pass vehicles, as if they too have some demands from the citizen of Kolkata as the city is becoming more and more polluted due to lots of vehicles on the roads.
(Photo : Times of India)
“That is my country …. How near is it. Still, I can never reach there.” This was a dialogue in Ritwik Ghatak’s film “Komal Gandhar”, which captured the pain and grief of partition and his dream of reaching there remained just a dream . But on the day of poila Baisakh, Bengali New Year 1415, the Bengalis of both side of the International border got a gift to cherish and to make their dreams of “reaching there” fulfilled.
“Maitree Express” (Friendship Express) a train to Bangladesh from India, (Kolkata to Dhaka) started its journey on the auspicious day of Poila Baisakh that is 14th april 2008, after 43 years of snapping rail link between India and Bangladesh (then East Pakistan). The rail link between India and the then East Pakistan was snapped during Indo-Pak war in 1965.
The two countries, India (particularly West Bengal) and Bangladesh supposed to be very close at hearts to each other because of their common bond of language, culture and food habits. But we are not so due to politics and misunderstandings. An International Boarder separated us from each other. India always respect sovereign state of the neighboring countries and never believe in aggressiveness or Dadagiri to any neighboring country. India always stood by the side of Bangladesh, at the time of distress like a good friend.
“Maitree Express” alone can not bridge the gap or erase the border between two nations built or created through many years unless there is heart to heart communications by way of cultural exchange and tourism. Let there be more “Bharat Bangaldesh friendship society”, and let us extend our hands for friendship with each other. The same was reflected on the first day run of “Maitree Express” when the passengers reaching Kolkata expressed their happiness shouting “we are very happy to be here. We Bangladeshis share a common bond with you people. We especially thank you for standing by us during our war of liberation”.
If East and West Berlin can unite by breaking their “Wall of Berlin”, why can’t we work for union of two Bengals ?
Note : During united India (before Independence) the present Bangladesh was known as “East Bengal”. Then came the partition of INDIA in 1947 on the basis of religion and then “East Bengal” became “East Pakistan” ruled by Pakistan. In 1971, “East Pakistan” was freed from the clutches of Pakistan by India and a new nation was born , thats “Bangladesh”.