• Tue. Jun 25th, 2024

The Indian Navy will be commemorating the Centenary of the Lascar Memorial at Kolkata tomorrow

The Lascar War Memorial, located on Napier Road in the Hastings of Kolkata, is a memorial dedicated to the memory of the 896 lascars (sailors from the Indian subcontinent) who died serving on ships of the Royal Navy and British Merchant Service during World War I.

The event will be a small microcosm of Maritime History, Culture and Art woven into a military setting. Professor Sugata Bose, Director Netaji Research Bureau and Gardiner Professor of Oceanic History and Affairs, Harvard University will be the Chief Guest.

During World War I, these brave sea warriors fought in different battles on oceans and seas around the globe.. Many of them give up their lives fighting for the king of another country. A decade after the end of the war, the British erected a beautiful memorial to honour the fallen Lascars of World War I.

Designed by William Ingram Keir, the Lascar War Memorial was unveiled to the visitors by the then-governor of Bengal, Lord Lytton, on February 6, 1924. The 100-ft high memorial, built in Indo-Mughal style, has prows of an ancient galley projecting from each side and is capped by four mini minarets and a large dome. Along the facade are undulating lines symbolising waves.

In 1994, commodore B K Mohanti spotted the ruined and neglected Lascar War Memorial overgrown with vegetation during his morning walk. Recognising the importance of the monument,Mohanty arranged for funds for the renovation of the memorial. The renovation and lightning was completed in December 1994. A.L. Dias, then Governor of West Bengal, switched on the illumination on 7 December 1994 on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of INS Netaji Subhas.

The best-selling author, Amitav Ghosh, mentions Lascars extensively in his famous Ibis trilogy. In the first book of the trilogy, Sea of Poppies, he writes, β€œHe had thought that the Lascars were a tribe or nation, like the Cherokee or Sioux: he discovered now that they came from places that were far apart, and had nothing in common, except the Indian Ocean; among them were Chinese and East Africans, Arabs and Malays, Bengalis and Goans, Tamils and Arakanese.”

Report- Pratyusha Mukherjee

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