ARMENIANS OF CALCUTTA
By Alakananda Nag
The Armenians came to India before the British in the early 1600’s. They were a thrifty community that ran coal mines, built hotels, and landmark buildings. The Armenians started leaving India before the British left, but a few still remain, mainly in Calcutta.They merged in the fiber of this vibrant city, and made it their own. In the hearts however, they remained chaste Armenians. They arguably had an equal if not a greater contribution than the British, to the cities architecture and cultural construct.Most of the Armenians in Calcutta today have never visited their country of origin; some speak the language, some don’t; the erstwhile grandeur, only a memory. But they pride themselves in being from a country rich in heritage, culture, and religion.To this day the Church remains the central figure holding the 200 odd Armenians together. The Armenian College & Philanthropic Academy, runby the Church is a free school and students from Armenia, Iran, and Iraq come for a better education.The Armenians of Calcutta, though dwindling in number, remain somewhat of a mystery. A quiet minority community that has been able to hold their own in an otherwise overpowering, frenetic city.