Mamata inaugurates renovated house of Sister Nivedita
Kolkata: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday inaugurated the restored house of Sister Nivedita, a disciple of Swami Vivekananada, in the city where she had stayed and carried out various social work, including setting up a girls' school.
The century-old two-storeyed building at 16-A Bosepara Lane in Bagbazar area was in shambles when the state government acquired it and handed it to Ramakrishna Sarada Mission, a religious monastic order, for renovation.
"It's our prime responsibility to protect buildings of such importance. Our government had acquired this heritage building where Sister Nivedita once stayed and handed it over to Ramakrishna Sarada Mission," Banerjee said while inaugurating the building which was declared as a Grade-I heritage building by the Kolkata Municipal Corporation.
"Sister Nivedita's service to humanity and her mission for furtherance of education, social service and values continue to be our inspiration and guiding force. My deepest regards to Sister," she said.
The Mission has proposed to set up a museum in the renovated building where many articles used by the Sister Nivedita will be exhibited.
At the inauguration of Sister's school, Sri Sarada Devi and Swami Vivekananda were present and the house is of immense historical importance. Sister Nivedita was the first foreigner who started a school for the girls coming from middle-class families in the city, then the capital of the British Empire.
The old nearly dilapidated building on Bosepara Lane was acquired due to the insistence of Mamata Banerjee. Recalling the state government's role in acquiring the house, Banerjee said she along with Mayor Sovan Chatterjee spoke to the occupants and sought their cooperation. It may be mentioned that she and the Mayor had also met Pranab Mukherjee, the then Finance minister in Delhi and sought his cooperation. But after no assistance coming through, Banerjee went ahead with her plans to acquire the building after rehabilitating the occupants.
Similarly, Roy Villa, the house where Sister breathed her last in 1911 was acquired by the state government following the Chief Minister's initiative and handed over to Ramakrishna Mission that opened its centre there. "I went to Darjeeling and held meetings with those who had occupied the building. We should keep the records how these buildings along with the ancestral house of Swami Vivekananda had been acquired for our posterity," she said.
Banerjee is flying to England where a Blue Plaque will be installed at the house where Sister used to live before coming to India on November 12. Swami Vivekananda had visited this house when he came in contact with Margaret Elizabeth Noble, later to be known as Sister Nivedita in 1895. Banerjee said Sister had toiled hard to get students for her school.
After getting the old and dilapidated building, Sri Sarada Math engaged a restoration architect. Foolproof planning was made to avoid any accident during restoration. The plaster of the building was removed and special small-sized bricks were used to repair the old structures. The restoration work was carried out under the supervision of Pravrajika Aseshprana.
Sister Nivedita was very proud of her rented accommodation where she stayed till the death of Swamiji in July 1902. She opened the school and made arrangements so that the girls could play in its courtyard. Once Sister told Dinesh Chandra Sen that Indian girls should be physically strong. Sister used to teach them stitching and drawing. Swamiji was astonished to see her pre-school system which she had started at Wimbledon in 1892.