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Coming Alive With VIVA – The Launch of the Calcutta Heritage Collectives

Ipsita Ganguli

The 16th of March 2018 could well be a landmark date for this city. It saw the launch of a Citizen's group, Kolkatans, from different walks of life, coming together in a body called Calcutta Heritage Collective, through a searing, soul-searching exhibition of photographs by journalist and photographer Kounteya Sinha on architectural magnificence from the world over.

The photo exhibition is aptly called VIVA which means "alive" in Spanish. Alive is what this citizen's group want to see their Heritage as. Not a state of delapidated decay, but a vibrant living reference to history for this city's common inherited legacy − its heritage.

This sentiment is brilliantly portrayed by Mrs. Rupa Chakravari, Poet, Singer, Global Citizen and Proud Calcuttan, who, while she congratulated "the trendsetters and trailblazers"  mentioned – With heartfelt gratitude to all the remarkable participants who celebrate the 'ism' that "antiquities of great architectural value aren't mere objects that need to perish. They perish but are a repository of human life." This is a cohort that resonates with 'heritage', an universal theme and sentiment...

In keeping with the theme, Calcutta Heritage Collective and VIVA was launched in a beautiful old mansion, in the older part of Calcutta, near Jorasankho Thakurbaari, right next to Marble Palce at 48B Muktaram Babu Street.

This grand old structure with beautiful colossal columns and arches had seen days of grandeur, but is now stripped down to its bricks. It came alive that evening in ethereal beauty in an event which seemed no less than magical. With the warmth of  beautiful lights, the photographs on easels and on brick walls, with interested, excited and enthused people streaming into the age-old "thakur dalan" (courtyard in front of the family temple) to laud this initiative. Yes indeed Heritage came alive!

With the Chief Guest, the Honorable Governor Shri Keshari Nath Tripathi, Dignitaries like Mr. GM Kapur, State Convenor for INTACH, and Cause Ambassadors like Subhaprasanna Bhattacharya, acclaimed Artist and Chairman of West Bengal Heritage Commission, Acclaimed musician Bickram Ghosh and Singer Usha Uthup enthralling all with her songs "Those were the Days" and  "Kolkata."

The Calcutta Heritage Collectives has had a grand start. They aim to spread awareness and their mission is to respect, restore and Reuse.  CHC member Mukul Agrawal mentioned at the launch the key word for all of us is “Take a Call.” Take a call on how you want to see heritage − Destroyed, Decayed and then Disappear, or as Living Emblems of a glorious past, connecting you Today and Tomorrow with your Roots.

This emotion splendidly came out in a poem by  entitled VIVA written in honor of the spirit of  Calcutta Heritage Collectives and read out at the Launch –

 

VIVA

 

Alive

I was then, and am now,

Breathing through time.

An edifice of glory

Witness to your story

As it unfolded

And made You.

 

For You

Are unique,

Carrying within yourself

My seeds,

Even as you spread

Your wings

To fly into

Your future.

 

And yet

Although you

Extend your branches

And bloom into new blossoms

It will always be I

Who holds you strong

 

Then, Now and Forever

Even as you grow

into your own progeny

You will  find your roots in me

 

 

Poem composed by Ipsita Ganguli.

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