When lakhs of people will gather in Vatican City this September to watch the historic ceremony of granting sainthood to Mother Teresa, a group of Kolkatans will hold photo exhibitions in Rome inviting visitors to the city where the late nun worked.
Using the power of images, music and verbal discussions, internationally acclaimed photographer Kounteya Sinha and his team of volunteers will hold exhibits at 11 places in Rome and the Vatican City, as part of their two week-long civilian movement called ‘The Sainthood Project’.
“The Mother used to work in slums of Kolkata. If she could, then why can’t we walk around potholes and slum areas where there is gutter? We want people from all over the world to come and see Kolkata where the Mother worked all her life,” Sinha said. The Kolkata-born ace lensman, who has lived in London for many years, said hardly one per cent of those who will be coming to see the canonisation ceremony know about Kolkata where the Roman Catholic nun spent 45 years serving the poor and sick on the streets. He plans to present a collection of 50 shots of the city by hanging it using clips on a rope and display it in roadsides where volunteers will hold the two ends of the rope.
“The idea is also to break all stereotypes about the city. So we are not keeping the Victoria Memorial, Howrah Bridge or the British architectural beauty of the city,” he said.
They are promoting small localities like Kumartoli, where potters make clay idols of Goddesses Durga and Kali, the flower market, Sonagachi (Asia’s largest red-light area), the numerous lanes and and slums of the city in which Mother Teresa and her Missionaries of Charity worked.
During the open-air roadside exhibition, young lawyer Amlan Guha, also an amateur musician, will play 15 new tracks on the streets of Rome to glorify Kolkata. Surasree Seal, a young photographer from Government Art College here, will document the whole journey.
“We want the world to come to Kolkata and see it, feel its pulse, embrace its warmth, communicate with its ever so charming people, eat its finger licking food, walk through its clean and dirty streets, sit and have a meal with those who live in the slums and above all walk the same roads that Mother Teresa once did,” the young team said.
They all describe themselves as ambassadors of Kolkata and will talk about the city which they are passionate about during their exhibits. “I want to glorify the people of Kolkata and so we will have photos of the common man and not of well-known faces. Our exhibition will be about the people of Kolkata and how they live. So we will have the traditional Bengal architecture, food, clothes, traditions, customs, etc,” Sinha said.
The exhibition will go on for a fortnight from August 22 till September 6 at 11 major spots in the Vatican City and Rome like Roman Forum, the Trevi Fountain, Vatican Musuem, Colosseum, Spanish Steps, etc.
The entire project of the team ‘The Nobody’s’, as they call themselves, is being funded by raising money from public donations for their travel and stay in Rome. Besides money, they are inviting Kolkatans and Bengalis settled anywhere in the world to join them in Rome to talk about their city.
Mother Teresa will be declared a saint on September 4 by Pope Francis in the Vatican City at an event which will be attended by lakhs across the globe, including West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.