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Kolkata house where first widow remarriage took place is in shambles!

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Do we have any respect for our heritage?


The imposing building on 48 Kailash Bose Street is old with paint and plaster shedding off from parts. Yet this is a building that was witness to one of the most important historical event that left an everlasting mark on the Indian society. This is the house where Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar married off the first Hindu widow and started the trend of Hindu Widow Remarriage against severe threat from the society. 

In those days young Hindu girls as young as 11-12 were married off to men of 60-70 years. As a result when their husbands died, the child and young widows became the target of ostracization. Many were even forced into prostitution and lived an inhuman life. Vidyasagar stood up for the widows and through the then British government helped in passing the Hindu Widow Remarriage Act. 

Yet it seems today in Kolkata no one knows that this house on erstwhile Sukhea Street is witness to a milestone in Indian history. Mentioning this golden moment of history, a plaque was also put on the walls of the house. Unfortunately that plaque is missing today! Probably stolen. It is now taken over by squatters and illegal occupants, many of who do not even speak Bengali. But yes, they have heard about the history of the house. The house belonged to Rajkrishna Bandopadhyay where on 7th December, 1856, around midnight the first Hindu widow remarriage took place. 

Aruound 800 people were invited. There was strict police protection as Vidyasagar was the target of many fundamental Hindu Brahmins who were even ready to kill him for bringing in social reforms. Widow Kalimati who was the daughter of Palashdanga’s Brahmananda Mukherjee was married to Shrishchandra Vidyaratna. Well known personalities like Kaliprasanna Singha, Pandit Premchandra Tarkabagish were also present. Many have raised a question if this house should get the heritage tag. Why not? After all history is also heritage!