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Winter homecoming for Anglo-Indians

All roads lead to Calcutta this winter for members of the Anglo-Indian community settled across the world.

The World Anglo-Indian Reunion will be held for the first time in the city from January 6 to 12 next year. The event, in its ninth edition, has already received 600 registrations, 500 of those from Anglo-Indians settled in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and other European countries.

“The theme for the reunion is ‘come home to the land of your birth’,” said Philomena Eaton, convener of the reunion and of the Calcutta Anglo-Indian Service Society, one of the principal organisers of the event. “We expect at least 1,200 delegates from the country and abroad to attend.”

The last World Anglo-Indian reunion was held in Perth, Australia.

Of the 2,00,000 Anglo-Indians in India, 40,000 are from Bengal alone, making it the largest Anglo-Indian community.

“While for those coming back home from abroad, it would be a nostalgic trip down memory lane, the reunion is meant as a celebration of the community and its culture,” said MLA Michael Shane Calvert.

Calvert has organised to sponsor 200 economically backward delegates from the community in Calcutta for the reunion. While the foreign delegates are paying a certain fee, Anglo-Indian delegates from India will be given a special package with lower rates. Indian participants will have to pay Rs 3,800 as registration fee.

The reunion aims to provide a platform for members of the community to share experiences, learn from the experiences of those who have settled abroad, pass on the history, culture, ethos and uniqueness of the community, showcase the vibrant and enthusiastic community in Calcutta now and suggest ways forward, said an organiser.

Keeping the aim of celebrating the culture in mind, the weeklong reunion will highlight all things Anglo-Indian — from food to sports to music.

The reunion will begin with a prayer service at the St. Paul’s Cathedral, followed by high tea with governor M.K. Narayanan.

The event will be formally inaugurated by chief minister Mamata Banerjee at the Science City auditorium on January 7. There will be a panel discussion on the Anglo-Indian community and its past, present and future, touching upon the exodus of members of the community in the past and the integration of the community at present and their future here.

There will be a quiz (a great Anglo-Indian tradition), an Anglo-Indian food festival, a sports day, a fund-raising community dinner and a musical event. The reunion will come to a close with a grand ball.

A theme song for the reunion is also being planned and will be ready by this December.

Registration for the event is open till November 30.