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Sunday December 5, 2021

The Christmas Trail On The West Bank of the Hugli: Part II

church at chandernagar hooghly

Chandernagore

The Sacred Heart Church at Chandernagore (l’Eglise du Sacré Cour) is a grand edifice situated just beyond the Strand by the river Hugli. The present building was built between 1875 and 1885, just when the Strand was being embellished. It was designed by the French architect Jacques Duchatz. The imposing double-storied building has a two-tiered façade supported by a row of coupled pillars. The rectangular corner towers which flank the semi-circular pediment on the upper story lends the shape of a Christian cross to the church. The regular Sunday Mass in Bengali is audible to the passersby on the road and is an example of how ethnicity has found its place in the centuries old Catholic church.

Christmas at the Chandernagore church is a grand affair. Every inch of the church is illuminated with colourful lights and the church is thrown open for the general public at specific hours everyday. Inside, one would witness scenes from the Nativity and different aspects of the life of Jesus and other Christian saints in decorated statues. The altar, the wooden pews, the intricately decorated confession boxes (which are no longer in use), lend an atmosphere of nostalgia to this ancient colonial edifice. The gong of the church bell at midnight on Christmas, the Christmas carols and Mass lend an air of festivity to the strand. Christmas attraction at Chandernagore also includes the fair on the pavement just outside the Church precincts. Both sides of the pavement are lined with stalls selling artificial jewellery, utensils, plastic goods, street-food and greeting cards. The fair stays in place till the New Year and people throng in hordes to the glittering stalls beside the gleaming Church. The fair generates a substantial income and shopkeepers arrive here regularly year after year, from far-off districts of Bengal.

*The Hooghly River was spelt Hugli in colonial times. We have retained the old spelling in this article.


Acknowledgement:

1. Hugli Heritage Management Strategy, University of Liverpool, 2019
2. Chandernagore mon amour: The Citadel of the Moon, edited by Antara Mukherjee, University of Liverpool, 2018
3. Mitra, Sudhir Kumar, Hugli  Jelar Itihas
4. Addhya, Akshay Kumar, Hooghly Chuchurar Nana Katha
5. Roy, Subhrangshu Kumar, Sekal o Ekal, Ganapragati, 2018
6. Chandernagorer Bibidho Prosongo, Collection of Articles, Chandernagore Government College, Ed. Antara Mukherjee, Rupali, Kolkata

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