|Sacred Heart Church|
The Sacred Heart Church was established by one Mrs. Pascoa Barettoe Souza in fulfillment of a vow of hers. The construction of this Gothic building took 2 years to complete, & it was thrown open as a Roman Catholic Church for the native Portuguese community in 1834. The church was renovated in early 1970s. I walked in the church, the prayer chamber is separated from the outer chamber by a grille & a door. When I reached the priest was leading a prayer, there were only two nuns & three devotees singing along with him. The prayer was sung very melodiously, the tenor rising & falling alternatively, the high bass of the priest’s voice merging with the sweetness of the nuns. I waited in the outer chamber for the prayers to end, observing the customs & manners all this while. Small benches & some chairs were the only furniture in the small outer chamber, several idols adored the walls & medallions depicting the life & struggle of Jesus hung from nails around the room. In the end, the priest closed his prayer book & kept it adoringly in a small curtain-covered cupboard in the wall behind the altar, the nuns went individually to each devotee, they seemed to know each other personally since the nuns called the visitors by name, & placing a hand on each person’s head they recited small couplets.
|One of the statues & the medallions in the outer chamber|
The priest was quick to grant me the permission to photograph the interiors, provided I was discreet about it. Soon I was left alone in the prayer chamber on the priest’s orders. I had a quick look around & started composing my pictures from different angles. The prayer chamber too was very small, rows of benches were placed in straight lines.
A golden cross & several candles & incense rested upon the stone altar. The altar itself was emblazoned with designs & patterns. Soon the caretaker returned & started packing the cross & the silks to be kept in a side room. After a few more minutes, I stepped out into the outer chamber, allowing the caretaker to lock the door.
I had company now. A visitor came & sat in the outer chamber, praying reverentially with head bowed & hands clasped. Soon it was time to go, I step outside to again come face-to-face with the chaos & humdrum of Calcutta.
|& the visitor|
The kids still played basketball, the patients & their relatives still moved in & out, & the guards still sat lazily next to the gate – only no one stopped this time as I again entered their quite lives, with my camera pointed towards the statues of Jesus & “Mother” lining the courtyard, & also towards the hospital’s foundation stone, set in the wall next to its entrance. The hospital had come to life now, the church had closed. But to a true believer, can a church actually close??
|The church is closed..|
Location : Sidho Kano Dahar Street, near Esplanade Bus Terminus
How to reach : One can simply walk from Esplanade Bus Terminus - walk straight away the Oberoi Hotel & towards the golden-domed Metropolitan Building, at the first intersection on the right, the church stands close to Tipu Sultan Mosque (see http://pixels-memories.blogspot.in/2012/09/tipu-sultan-mosque-calcutta.html for more details & photographs). Taxis & buses can be availed from different parts of the city.
Open : All days, Sunrise - sunset
Entrance Fee : Nil
Photography/Video Charges : Nil
Time required for sightseeing : 30 min