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Kishanganj’s claim to fame
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MessagePosté le: Lun 18 Jan 2016 - 09:36
MessageSujet du message: Kishanganj’s claim to fame
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Kishanganj’s claim to fame

Kishanganj in Old Delhi lays claim to fame because of the historic D’Eremao cemetery which is now planned to be renovated and at least partly restored by the Archaeological Survey of India. The cemetery actually came under the charge of the ASI in 1919, according to Beverly Hallam, a descendant of the medieval Captain Manuel D’Eremao, who lives in England. Dr Rosie Llewellyn-Jones, editor of “Chowkidar” Journal of BACSA (British Association for Cemeteries in South Asia), quotes Ms Hallam as saying: The cemetery can be accurately dated back to at least the late 18th Century, to 1781 to be precise, when the Carmelite Padre Gregorio della Presentatione came from Bombay to Delhi to take charge of the Delhi Mission, previously run by the Jesuits. There had been an earlier Christian burial ground in Delhi, to accommodate the numerous Armenians and Christians working for the Mughals. A Jesuit priest, Father Joseph Tieffenthaler had remarked on the cemetery in the 1760s, which was said, perhaps with some exaggeration, to have been destroyed by the Persian invader Nadir Shah in 1739. It does seem likely however that the D’Eremao cemetery forms part of that first European cemetery, and is contemporary with the earliest European burials at Agra in the 1600s.

“Manuel D’Eremao, after whom the cemetery was named, was born in Delhi about AD 1744 and was probably brought up by his maternal grandfather, Manuel Gascoine, though most of the wealth he inherited came from his paternal grandmother, Donna Juliana Diaz da Costa. The Captain served as an officer in Scindia’s army, and was in charge of the Fort at Hansi until he surrendered it to Lord Lake in 1803, in return for a large pension and confirmation of his ancestral holdings in Delhi.”

The Persian inscription on his tomb, reads: Captain Manuel D’Eremao Bahadur, having passed eighty-six years of his borrowed life with a good report and a happy conclusion in munificence and charitableness, left this perishable inn four hours after sunset on Friday, the fifth of June 1829 AD corresponding to 2nd of Zilhijj, 1244 Hijri, and took his abode for ever in Paradise after having acted up to the tenets of the Christian faith. His relatives were left helpless, and this sorrowful event caused them profound grief and sorrow. Sad is it that the Captain, who was a good natured kind-hearted and generous man went the way of the world all of a sudden. When I pondered over the year of his death I heard from the unknown “Wai Daregh” (it is sorrowful indeed). Domingo D’Eremao, son of the Captain, erected this stone in memory of his father. The inscription has now disappeared.

The D’Eremao Cemetery had been squatted since the 1950s, mainly by Indian Christians. “Despite a modern stone that labels the site ‘Armenian Cemetry’ recent research has found it is probably the first European cemetery of Old Delhi, and thus not exclusively Armenian. Captain Manuel D’Eremao’s grandmother Donna Juliana Diaz da Costa was of Portuguese descent and born in Bengal in 1658, attached to the Mughal court, on her death in 1732, she left four villages and their income, which had been gifted to her by the Emperor Shah Alam-I (or Bahadur Shah I, eldest son of Aurangzeb). The cemetery was certainly in use before then for in it lie the remains of Judith Gascoin, (died 1808), the wife of Captain Von Der Osten, chief of the Danish Factory at Patna. The earliest Armenian inscription in it dates back to 1787. There were six more Armenian tombstones according to the historian Meshrob Seth.”

However to come back to the cemetery, when Brigadier Bullock visited it, in 1936, it was in excellent condition. But on a return visit in December 1947, when the Brigadier was conducting an audit of all European cemeteries in newly independent India, he found a terrible sight. “During the disturbances in August and September 1947 it had suffered much deliberate damage. All marble tablets were stolen and wanton damage (though perhaps random) done to many graves and to the large D’Eremao mausoleum, which forms the principal feature of the cemetery. Beverly Hallam has found numerous letters from Brigadier Bullock to administrative bodies in Delhi, trying to submit a claim for compensation, then to have the cemetery cleared of squatters, and chowkidars installed. Very little help was offered.” The British High Commission, with responsibility for maintenance, was happy to hand it over to the Delhi authorities in 1952, says Dr. Jonas, Now that its history is better known, Captain D’Eremao’s great-great-grandaughter has written to the ASI and INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art & Cultural Heritage), asking that the cemetery should be properly recognized and given the respect it is due, as a unique piece of Indo-European history. Hope the ASI makes this hope come true.


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MessagePosté le: Lun 18 Jan 2016 - 09:36
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