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#52,000 Bengal boat to light up Kolkata-London ties

The peacock-shaped boat, adorned with 1.25 lakh bulbs, will be the cynosure of all eyes at the two-day Thames Festival.

india Updated: Dec 29, 2003 12:27 IST
Nabanita Sircar
Nabanita Sircar

It will be a two-day 'nuptial' celebration of two great cities of the world - Kolkata and London. The union of two river cities will be celebrated by a £52,000 worth peacock-shaped Bengal boat, adorned with 125,000 miniature bulbs, at the London Mayor's Thames Festival starting on Saturday at the Victoria Embankment on the river Thames in London.

The close cultural, historical and architectural ties between Kolkata and London have resulted in the 7-metre long Bengal boat, specially shipped here from Chandernagore in West Bengal, which will lead the 1.6 km long Procession of Lights marking the grand finale of the annual Thames Festival on Sunday.

Called the 'Midnight Menagerie', this year's procession has been put up by 50 artists working with 2,000 participants, including children, to create a spectacle of music, dance, lanterns and costumes.

Simon Hughes, MP and Chairman of the Thames Festival Trust, while addressing the media at the Indian High Commission in London called it a wedding celebration, the highpoint of which will be " 'Din Shuru' (Starting the Day), an Indian carnival, with 'Bajra'(pleasure boat) - made entirely of light bulbs as a centrepiece, which has been brought over from West Bengal to London."

The festival marks the unending love for Kolkata in British hearts. Many believe the full potential of the city of the sacred Ganga has yet to be reached. It is, for most Britons, a 'sleeping giant waiting to be woken'. A city blessed with culture, talent, history and architecture, not a city of Mother Teresa, poverty, urban decay.

Dr Satyabrata Pal, Deputy High Commissioner for India in the UK, who hosted a reception at the India House for the organisers of the Festival, coincidentally on September 11, referred to the "destructive" mindset of extremists responsible for the 9/11 terror attacks in the US two years ago and said: "What we need today is a complete rejection of that mindset.

"What we have here is the merger of rivers Ganges and Thames in a most spectacular way. What we have here is a true attempt to understand each other."

First Published: Dec 25, 2003 21:33 IST