The revelry including singing, dancing and feasting may have been missing or muted, but most programmes organised by the Anglo-Indian community in the city on World Anglo-Indian Day on Monday bordered on spirituality and the idea of supporting each other in these trying times.
The Rangers Club, which is the only Anglo-Indian club in the world, was supposed to celebrate its 125th anniversary on Monday on a grand scale. But such programmes have been shelved for now. On Sunday, however, the club organised a small get-together with just 50 members to mark the occasion. The feast included the customary yellow rice ball curry, pork vindaloo and salad, but members said they missed the fun and laughter. “We are a community that lives large and enjoys every moment. But this year the celebratory spirit was missing,” said club president Shane Calvert.
Those who attended tried to make the most of it. “We were so happy to see Richard Alford and his wife Geraldine, the oldest members of the club,” said social secretary Blossom Rae.
Hundreds from the city now settled abroad connected with their families and friends here for a virtual ecumenical service organised by The Calcutta Anglo Indian Service Society (Caiss) on Monday evening. It was a hybrid programme with the physical service conducted by Father Orson Wells at Church of Our Lady of Vailankanni, and attended by 50 members of the community, and the livestream that was attended by the rest. Some parts of the services were conducted by Anglo Indian clergy, like Father Pat Walsh from Kharagpur and Father Nigel Pope from Melbourne.
“It was an emotional moment as hundreds prayed for good health and pledged to stay by each other. We have been reaching out to all members in need and many living abroad are sending financial assistance,” said Colin Fitzgerald, convenor of Caiss.
Many city schools that have a large representation of Anglo-Indian teachers, like La Martiniere, Julien Day School and Welland Gouldsmith, organised virtual programmes where teachers spoke about the contribution of the community. “We spoke to the boys about sportsmen the community has produced, like Leslie Claudius and Leandar Paes. The latter was a Martinian. We told them about legendary teachers of the community who built the backbone of the English education system,” said Joseph Edmund Paul, a teacher of LMB who participated in the virtual event.
The Association of Heads of Anglo Indian Schools, too, organised a thanksgiving service, said Francis Gomes, association secretary.