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All Souls Day prayer held at renovated cemetery

By Staff Correspondent

DIBRUGARH, Nov 2 � For the first time in the history of the city today, the historic British cemetery here was opened for community prayer, laying of wreaths and lighting of candles. All factions of Christian communities here jointly offered prayers, laid wreaths and lit candles at the tombs in the heritage cemetery in keeping with the All Souls Day today.

All Souls Day was never observed in this historic graveyard before, even as Christians all over the world offer prayers at all graveyards for the departed souls on November 2. The truth beaneath is that this graveyard was almost abandoned for years as shrubs, weeds and wild plants covered the entire cemetery. Although effort was made by the district administration to clean up the site some six years back, the attention was not adequate. Members of the Lions Club had once volunteered to clean up the cemetery but failed to follow it up with action and the cemetery was left in a deplorable state.

Just after The Assam Tribune carried reports of negligence by district administration, Zilla Parishad here made a provision for Rs 5 lakh and took up the conservation exercise at the behest of the local Deputy Commissioner. The cemetery has been cleaned, footpaths constructed, walls refurbished and entrance beautified. The renovated cemetery now has been handed over to the Dibrugarh Municipal Board for beautification and further preservation.

The 150-year-old cemetery, which is now called Christian Cemetery, has tombs of altogether 103 British nationals, mostly officials and soldiers. The cemetery, spreading across about 68,608 square feet, was constructed in 1862-63. William Alexander Mackensie Duncan, the then Deputy Commissioner of Dibrugarh (erstwhile Lakhimpur district), is also laid to rest in this graveyard. The British soldiers who died fighting during World War II are also said to be buried in this cemetery.

The first person to be buried in this Christian cemetery was young a British Corporal, Thomas Trail, according to records. This British official died at the age of 33. High ranking British officials, then Executive Councillor W Craig, Upper Assam Executive Councillor Barnard J, Indian General Steam Navigation Company�s ship �Rajmahal��s Commander Thomas Walter, Lakhimpur district�s civil surgeon Lt (Col) Jemirier and many others are said to be buried here.

The Christian community who congregated at the centre of the cemetery early dawn today prayed for all the dead and lit candles at the tombs. C W Marak, the pastor from the local Baptist Church led the congregation to prayer. He was joined by priests - N Stephen Nag, T Sangma and Joy Pallikunel. The Christian communities who took part in this prayer service include members from Presbyterian Church, Baptist Church, Catholic Church, Church of North India, Church of Jesus Christ and Kuki Inter-denominational Christain Church.

The Christians also conducted prayer service at the Catholic cemetery at Paltan Bazar as part of the All Souls Day programme. Joseph Aind, the Bishop of Upper Assam, presided over the prayer service at the Paltan Bazar cemetery. Like every year, about a thousand people gathered at this cemetery, prayed and lit candles on the tombs of their departed dear ones. Most members of the Catholic families of the town are buried in this graveyard here.

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All Souls Day prayer held at renovated cemetery

DIBRUGARH, Nov 2 � For the first time in the history of the city today, the historic British cemetery here was opened for community prayer, laying of wreaths and lighting of candles. All factions of Christian communities here jointly offered prayers, laid wreaths and lit candles at the tombs in the heritage cemetery in keeping with the All Souls Day today.

All Souls Day was never observed in this historic graveyard before, even as Christians all over the world offer prayers at all graveyards for the departed souls on November 2. The truth beaneath is that this graveyard was almost abandoned for years as shrubs, weeds and wild plants covered the entire cemetery. Although effort was made by the district administration to clean up the site some six years back, the attention was not adequate. Members of the Lions Club had once volunteered to clean up the cemetery but failed to follow it up with action and the cemetery was left in a deplorable state.

Just after The Assam Tribune carried reports of negligence by district administration, Zilla Parishad here made a provision for Rs 5 lakh and took up the conservation exercise at the behest of the local Deputy Commissioner. The cemetery has been cleaned, footpaths constructed, walls refurbished and entrance beautified. The renovated cemetery now has been handed over to the Dibrugarh Municipal Board for beautification and further preservation.

The 150-year-old cemetery, which is now called Christian Cemetery, has tombs of altogether 103 British nationals, mostly officials and soldiers. The cemetery, spreading across about 68,608 square feet, was constructed in 1862-63. William Alexander Mackensie Duncan, the then Deputy Commissioner of Dibrugarh (erstwhile Lakhimpur district), is also laid to rest in this graveyard. The British soldiers who died fighting during World War II are also said to be buried in this cemetery.

The first person to be buried in this Christian cemetery was young a British Corporal, Thomas Trail, according to records. This British official died at the age of 33. High ranking British officials, then Executive Councillor W Craig, Upper Assam Executive Councillor Barnard J, Indian General Steam Navigation Company�s ship �Rajmahal��s Commander Thomas Walter, Lakhimpur district�s civil surgeon Lt (Col) Jemirier and many others are said to be buried here.

The Christian community who congregated at the centre of the cemetery early dawn today prayed for all the dead and lit candles at the tombs. C W Marak, the pastor from the local Baptist Church led the congregation to prayer. He was joined by priests - N Stephen Nag, T Sangma and Joy Pallikunel. The Christian communities who took part in this prayer service include members from Presbyterian Church, Baptist Church, Catholic Church, Church of North India, Church of Jesus Christ and Kuki Inter-denominational Christain Church.

The Christians also conducted prayer service at the Catholic cemetery at Paltan Bazar as part of the All Souls Day programme. Joseph Aind, the Bishop of Upper Assam, presided over the prayer service at the Paltan Bazar cemetery. Like every year, about a thousand people gathered at this cemetery, prayed and lit candles on the tombs of their departed dear ones. Most members of the Catholic families of the town are buried in this graveyard here.