The St. Nazareth Armenian Church in Calcutta (now Kolkata), India, stands as a compelling testimony to the Armenian diaspora’s significant impact on trade, culture, and religious life across the globe. Captured elegantly in a 1931 drawing by Frank Klinger Scalen, this historic church evokes a sense of timelessness and reverence that transcends borders.
A Brief History
Armenians have had a presence in India since the early medieval period, mainly as traders and merchants. Calcutta, being a significant hub for international trade during the British colonial era, attracted a vibrant Armenian community. The St. Nazareth Armenian Church was built to serve this community, offering a space for worship and community gatherings.
The church’s architecture is an amalgamation of various styles, reflecting the diverse influences the Armenian community had encountered in their travels. Frank Klinger Scalen’s 1931 drawing captures the intricate details of the church, from its stately columns to its distinctive Armenian ecclesiastical motifs. The drawing serves not only as an artistic representation but also as a historical document, offering a glimpse into the architectural tastes and religious sensibilities of the period.
The St. Nazareth Armenian Church is not just a place of worship but also a cultural hub for the Armenian community in Calcutta. Over the years, the church has hosted numerous events, from weddings and baptisms to cultural festivals, that have helped keep Armenian traditions alive in India.
Though the Armenian community in Calcutta has dwindled over the years, the St. Nazareth Armenian Church continues to attract visitors—both Armenian and non-Armenian alike—drawn by its architectural beauty and historical significance. It remains an important landmark in the city, symbolizing the cosmopolitan fabric that makes Calcutta a unique melting pot of cultures.
The St. Nazareth Armenian Church, immortalized in Frank Klinger Scalen’s 1931 drawing, is a vibrant reminder of the rich cultural exchange that has occurred between Armenia and India over centuries. It stands as a testament to the resilience and adaptability of the Armenian diaspora, offering a place of spiritual refuge and cultural preservation in a foreign land.
For those interested in experiencing this piece of history, a visit to the St. Nazareth Armenian Church in Calcutta is highly recommended. Whether you are drawn by its architectural splendor or its historical roots, this church is a treasure trove that offers a window into a lesser-known chapter of Armenian and Indian history.
Source of reproduction: Gevork Nazaryan