Remembrance Sunday, St. John’s Church, Kolkata
Remembrance Sunday, St. John’s Church, Kolkata
November 8, 2015
The First World War (WWI), which was the known as the Great War of 1914 – 18, ended on 11 November 1918 (11/11/18).
A year later in 1919 King George V inaugurated the first commemoration of the end of the Great War of 1914 – 18.
It was subsequently observed by all Commonwealth Nations and came to be known as Armistice Day.
Post Second World War (WWII), most of the commonwealth nations, including Great Britain, moved the Armistice Day events nearest Sunday of 11th November or the second Sunday of November.
It adopted the name of Remembrance Day or Remembrance Sunday and was observed to honour the fallen soldiers of World War I and World War II.
The Remembrance Day service started with the the procession along the aisle of the church, led by the Crucifer carrying the Crucifix followed by the the two candle bearers.
It was followed by metallic badge of the East India Company, attached at the end of long poles.
The badges probably dates back to the late 18th or early 19 th century and the Latin inscription translates into “Under the auspices of the Sovereign and the Senate of England.”
The service was attended by the Bishop of Kolkata (CNI), representative from the Governor of West Bengal. Representatives of the Army, Navy, Air force and Police, British High Deputy Commission and the US Consulate General.
Also present were a host of Schools under Churches of North India (CNI), including St. Thomas Boys & Girls, La Martiniere Boys & Girls, St. John’s Diocesan, St. James, Pratt Memorial, Union Chapel School and many more.
Also present were the representative of the Chief Justice of Kolkata High Court, East India Charitable Trust, British Citizen (East India) Association and few others.
The service started with hymns and call of worship. Soon the several choirs of different schools and associations started to sing, with the newly restored church pipe organ playing in the background.
The second part of the service was held at the Memorial Corner. The Memorial Corner located at the North – Western corner of the St. John’s Church consists of several brass plaques dedicated to the fallen British Soldiers of World war I (WWI).
These brass plaques were originally from the Glorious Dead Cenotaph in the Maidan and were removed to the St. John’s Church in 1959.
The service at the Memorial Corner started with a small speech saying:
“Let us remember the courage, devotion to duty and the self sacrifice of the men and women in our armed forces; the toil, endurance, and suffering of those, who were not in uniform; the support of those who sent help from the after, or came and stood by our side.
Let us remember those who were wounded in the fight, those who perished in the fight; those who perished in air raids at home; those who fell in the battle. and are buried at sea or in some corner of a foreign land; and especially those whom we have known and loved, whose place is forever in our hearts.
Let us remember the continuing grace of God, whose love holds all souls in life, and to whom none is dead but all are alive for ever. Amen.”
After the speach, wreath laying process started with the Bishop Of Kolkata The Rt. Rev. Ashoke Biswas.
The Bishop was followed by the the members of the armed forces and the representatives of the police. Representative of the consulate and the embassies also paid home to the fallen soldiers of the two World Wars.
Finally the schools, represented by the head boys and girls, paid their respects.
Then the two buglers, who came from Fort William, sounded their bugles. First they sounded the Last Post followed by a brief period of silence and followed by the The Rouse.
It was followed by a small address by The Rev. Pradeep Kumar Nanda, “In memory of those who died, may be better men and women: in gratitude to God, may we live as those who are not there own, but bought with a price.“
This marked the end of the service at the memorial corner. The crucifix was carried back to the alter and all all those present got back to their respective places.
The Bishop delivered the final speech from the altar of the St. John’s Church and followed by the vote of thanks from one of the Church members.
Finally the procession carrying the crucifix, flanked by the candle stands, along with the badges of the East Indian Company made it back from the altar of the St. John’s Church.
Finally the Remembrance Sunday Services came to an end with the singing of the Indian National Anthem.
Finally it was time for home, but a last look at the memorial corner of the St. John’s Church, Kolkata, with the bouquets of flowers, reminded me of the fallen soldiers of the the World War I (WWI), World War II (WWII) and subsequent conflicts.
- The Rev. Pradeep Kumar Nanda, vicar of St. John’s Church, Kolkata and Rangan Datta, the church officer St. John’s Church, Kolkata