Chinese have been coming to India for thousands of years, as traders, travelers as well as those looking for work. However, the latest migration of our Chinese brethren can be traced back to the colonial times when Kolkata was the capital of British India. The stories from that era make for fascinating tales. The influence of the Chinese culture on the city can be seen from the Sea Ip church in China Town. This is where the Goddess of war, mercy and love is worshipped.
The Sea Ip Church is located on the Indian Exchange Place (Extension) and at the corner of Kolkata Improvement Trust. The Sea Ip Church is the most accessible of the six Chinese Temples of Tiretta Bazar and the only one located on the main road. This church was built 111 years ago in 1905 by the Chinese of the Old China Town. Young Dajiyang, a businessman took the initiative to introduce the Chinese to the city. One among those Chinese inhabitants built this church.
Questions can be raised about the ‘church’ of the Chinese, because we usually know that the temples of Chinese are known as ‘pagodas’. But it is not at all surprising. This has been named to enhance the understanding in English. The two storey building is the only one of it’s kind in the locality, and is a sight for sore eyes. The ground floor is actually a library where you can read Kolkata’s Chinese newspaper as well.
However, the most beautiful part of building is the actual temple which is located on the first floor. Goddess Kwan Yin sits on the alter, and is surrounded by many other Chinese gods and goddesses. It’s not allowed for travellers to stay within the main shrine, and this was done to reduce the theft of temple articles by tourists.
Reporting By Souptik Banerjee
Edited By Saheli Dey