City landmark – A Hindu Graveyard, Kali Bari Temple, CR Park
A memorial to Bengalis.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Losing a loved one is a universal experience. And honouring their lives is hardly unusual.
How does one go about it?
Christians and Muslims alike immortalize their dearly departed in quiet cemeteries across our city; epitaphs on gravestones bespeak love and remembrance. Our city also has a Jewish and Parsi graveyard.
Hindus, on the other hand, are usually not buried. Their ashes are instead immersed in sacred rivers for all eternity.
However: sometimes even the ones who have been cremated can be commemorated at sacred sites like the Kali Bari Temple in south Delhi where hundreds of inscribed tiles amount to lasting tributes, such as this one:
Remembered with silent tears, Akitananda and Namita Adhikar.
So many of the tiles dedicated to “didi” and “bishi” demarcate citizens who have lived in this Bengali-dominated neighbourhood of CR Park where the temple holds forth on a hillock. Many other tiles invoke late citizens hailing from other nevertheless their last names revealing them to be Bengali in most cases.
Some slabs move us closer to India’s recent history:
In memory of VK Mukherjee, ex MP, Freedom Fighter
One can spend an entire day in the temple studying these tiles and end up having a rich sense of the city’s Bengali community. Rohini Kumar and her husband Sarral, for instance, had come from what is now Bangladesh.
Although each tile uniquely mourns or celebrates a life, a particular tile commemorating Nishit Kumar Kanjilal invites special attention:
He sacrificed his life to save a fellow citizen in CP Park shooting on 20th October 1987
Perhaps the most heart-wrenching tile is the one with an inscription by a grief-stricken CR Park couple starting with “In loving memory of our sons…”
Here lie the Bengalis