There is now tangible evidence indicating that the settlement of Greek merchants in Bengal must have begun as early as the beginning of the seventeenth century. This is substantiated by the discovery of two Greek tombstones, dated 1713 and 1728, and preserved in the aisles of the Catholic Cathedral of the Virgin Mary of the Rosary in Murgihatta, Calcutta.[efn_note]Ulysses in the Raj, p. 19. The present author in his research in the Portuguese church in 1999 found only the gravestone of Georgios Ioannis Draskoglou from Philippopolis, who died in Calcutta in 1728. The other Greek gravestone obviously broke and like many others it was used for the construction of the church, which was built above the old Christian cemetery. See photograph Νο. 12, in Photo Gallery “Memories from the Greek Community in Bengal”, ΙΝΔΙΚΑ 2005.[/efn_note] A significant number of Greek families migrated to Bengal mainly from the rich commercial Thracian cities of Adrianoupolis and Philippoupolis, when their properties were destroyed during the Turko-Russian War in 1774. Another steady stream of immigrants arrived in the Eastern ports of India on the ships which carried British colonialists from the Ionian Islands as well as from the disaffected Greek cities in Cappadocia and the Aegean Islands. At the beginning of the 19th century, the Greek community in Bengal was comprised of about 120 families. Most of them were residing in the metropolitan city of Calcutta, which then had a population of 800,000 people.
The British authorities identified Panagiotes Alexandros Argyres of Philippoupolis as the leader and true founder of the Greek mercantile community in Bengal. This honorable recognition was apparently bestowed upon him due to the association of his name with an apocryphal story concerning the erection of the first Greek Orthodox church in Calcutta.
This story mentions that in 1770 Panagiotes Alexandros Argyres (also known as Chatze Alexis) accompanied Captain Thornhill as an interpreter on the ship ‘Alexander.’ The vessel, caught in a severe storm, was taking on water and about to sink when Argyres vowed to build a church in Calcutta if he ever reached that city. His prayers were heard and the ship landed safely. Argyres approached the Governor of Bengal, Sir Warren Hastings, with a petition signed by all the Greek merchants, requesting permission to build the church. Unfortunately, he died in 1777 in Dhaka, before he could fulfill his promise. In spite of this, work began with thirty thousand rupees contributed by his estate. The church was dedicated to the Transfiguration of Christ on Mount Tabor (Η ΜΕΤΑΜΟΡΦΩΣΙΣ ΤΟΥ ΣΩΤΗΡΟΣ) and was built in the year 1780 in a suburb known then as Dhee Calcutta, which was later renamed Amratollah. The names of the founders and benefactors have been inscribed for posterity on a marble stone which is placed in the interior of the church. On it are mentioned H.E. Warren Hastings,[efn_note]Governor Warren Hastings had supported several issues of the Greek merchant community in Bengal and donated two thousand rupees for the construction of the Greek church in Calcutta. Subsequently, in 1788, when Hastings was impeached on charges of corruption, two Greek priests and seventy Greek merchants (including Galanos) signed the following supporting petition addressed to the Honourable Court of Directors of the East India Company: “We take the liberty of testifying and declaring by this humble representation his Christian and universal character, his beneficent and charitable disposition to all mankind, his just and impartial love of all the native inhabitants, whether high or low, of this kingdom and his fervent zeal for the prosperity of this country in general and of every individual in it, manifesting to all and every one of them marks of paternal affection and stretching forth his hand to those whom he found in indigent circumstances and destitute of the necessities of life. He was a zealous patron for the dispensation of justice to every individual and of a faithful balance of equity. In a word, he was enriched with all human and moral endowments and famous not only for his moral and political virtues but worthy of praise and to be highly spoken of for his desire to preserve and improve the literature of this country, all of which excellencies will render him admired and immortal throughout the universal world.” Ulysses in the Raj, pp. 31-32, and 189-190.[/efn_note] the Archimandrite Parthenios of Corfu, Alexandros Argyres, Georgios Michael Mauroeides-Bairaktaroglou, Christodoulos Mauroeides, Georgios and Aggelike Leontiou, the family of Athanasios Metsos, Michael Andreades, and various Greek and British merchants of Bengal in the year 1774. The Registry of the Church with the rules and regulations of the church and the birth and death records of the members of the Greek community began to be composed in 1792 and was rewritten and preserved by Father Ananias Kyriakou of Macedonia in 1891.
The first priest to officiate in the church was Rev. Nikiforos from Sinai who came to India on 11th October 1772 and had occasionally performed the Greek liturgy in private houses before the construction of the church. The Second priest was the Reverent Ananias a monk of Mount Sinai and his assistant Father Constantinos Parthenios (d. 1803) a native of Corfu. The later became popular among the foreign community in Bengal and is said to have served as the model for the Christ in Zoffany’s famous painting of ‘The Last Supper’ now hanging in St. John’s church.[efn_note] Eardley Latimer, Handbook to Calcutta and Environs, pp. 88-89. See Photo no. 24 in Photo Gallery, INDIKA 2005.[/efn_note] Some other outstanding priests who served in the church at different times were: Nathaniel of Siphnos, who came in 1777 and died in Dhaka in 1810 “a splendid example of learning and virtue” in the words of Galanos; Dionysios of Mudana, who came in 1792 and was blamed by Galanos as “the cause of dishonor to our nation” because he was highly critical of his predecessor Nathaniel; Gregorios of Siphnos, the only priest sent by the Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople and who officiated the first liturgy in the newly constructed church in Dhaka in 1812; Ambrosios Ghimouschanales from Mount Sinai, who replaced Gregorios of Siphnos in 1817. In May 1832 the monastery of Sinai sent to Dhaka the priest Ananias of Seres, who traveled by boat with the nephew of Galanos, Pantoleon and brought with him numerous books. The priest Joseph of Zakynthos, who appears as the last monk of the Sinai lineage was sent in April 1841 to replace Father Gabriel.
When the church was not under the jurisdiction of the archbishop of Sinaiany longer, the Greek Committee asked the Greek government to send them a priest from Greece. The first one was Archimandrite Grigorios Ioannidis (1852-1870); later was Father Damas Papasperopoulos (1871-1878), who was succeeded by Archimandrite Konstantinos Vafidis (1878-1880). He was followed by Archimandrite Kallinikos Kanellas (1880-1886) and succeeded by Nicolaos Panas (1886-1891). After him came Archimandrite Efthimios Platis from 1891 to 1897, replaced by Archimandrite Germanos Kazakos (1897-1913), and later by Athanasios Alexiou (1913-1960).[efn_note]Rev. Kallistatos Adamou, The History of the Greek Church in Calcutta India, p.4. See also Ανδρέα Τηλλυρίδη, «Το Θεοβάδιστον Όρος Σινά και ο Ελληνισμός των Ινδιών». [/efn_note]
In 1786, Dimitrios Gallanos, the Athenian, established the first school for the children of the immigrants in Calcutta, while regular classes began in Dhaka as well. Galanos was sent to Calcutta to start a school, but after six years he departed for the holy city of Benares where he dedicated 40 years of his life in the Study of Sanskrit. He died in 1833 and was buried in the British Christian Cemetery. His manuscripts are kept in the National Library of Athens. Ten of them were published posthumously (1845-53) in seven volumes.
The Greek immigrants faced several problems adjusting to their new homes, but they did not forget their relatives in Greece, who were preparing to revolt against the Ottoman rule. When the undercover network, responsible for the revolution, known as Society of the Friends (Φιλική Εταιρεία) asked assistance from the prosperous Greek communities abroad, the Greeks in Bengal responded rapidly. They gathered in the Orthodox Church in Calcutta on the second day of Easter in the year 1802 and made the following historical vow:
In the year of our Lord 1802, in the Spring and Easter of our Lord, all the Greek traders residing in Calcutta from Pontos, and Bithynia, and Cappadocia, and Aeolia, and the land of Ionia, and mainland Greece, and islands, and Barbaria (North Africa), and Egypt, and Constantinople, and from all over the world, we gathered in the temple, in the evening after the divine service of the second day of the Resurrection, and took a sacred vow. We shall place in custody in Calcutta our spare money and gold and silver and other property for the resurgence of the race of the Greeks. No one will ever put a hand on them. They will be bestowed to the kingdom of the Greeks so that with the grace of God it will be resurrected.[efn_note]From the historical archives of the Greek Orthodox church, Calcutta. For the original text in Greek, See Photo no. 22 in Photo Gallery, INDIKA 2005. For farther details about the Greek Community’s participation in the Greek revolution, see: Σπύρος Λουκάτος, Έλληνες και Φιλέλληνες των Ινδιών κατά την Ελληνικήν Επανάστασιν.[/efn_note]
The Greeks, who were engaged in trade, were apparently very prosperous, as is suggested by the significant capital that they handed to the Greek authorities and by their constant support of the Greek revolution. They also supported the refugees who escaped Kemal Ataturk’s genocide of the Asia Minor Greeks in 1922, as well as the struggle for the liberation of the Greeks in Northern Epiros
In the year 1920, the Greek community decided to sell the old building of the church and the surrounding land, which was used as a cemetery, as well as several houses, which belonged to the church. With the revenue they bought a piece of land in the central area of Kalighat, near the famous temple of the Hindu Goddess Kālī There, they built the new church in a magnificent neo-classical Doric order, along with a double-storied residence for the priest. The cemetery was moved to a site outside the city that is now quite crowded and is located near the crossroads of Narkeldanga and Phulbagan. The new church kept the old name and began functioning in 1924. The largest contribution for the building of the new church came from the Ralli Brothers, originally from the Aegean island of Chios, who were the owners of Rallis Company, manufacturers of cotton and silk materials. Their company, which numbered 3,000 people, is still present in Calcutta, but the owner is now Indian.
Other important Greek settlements were established in Dhaka and in its port, Narayanganj. In 1812.[efn_note]James Taylor mentioned 1821, but according to Paul Byron Norris, he is in error in this fact. The chief founder of the church was Alexander Paniotys who died in 1821.[/efn_note]the Greek immigrants built a church dedicated to Saint Thomas, a little distance inside the Muqim Kuttra Road (east of Chowk Bazaar) in Dhaka and in 1840 they had their own school. Priests, who served also as teachers for the Greek children of the community, were appointed from Mount Sinai. The church was partly destroyed in a severe earthquake in 1897 and was abandoned. Two later references were found in the archives of the Greek community for the years 1907 and 1911 which describe the condition of the church in bleak tones. The Greek community in Calcutta was anxious to find out why the church was deserted and the cemetery’s tombs neglected, but they could not prevent the final destruction. The local people stole the marble and the tombstones and the surrounding wall collapsed.[efn_note]π. Κωνσταντίνος Χαλβατζάκης-Βελλάδιος, Πόντιοι στις Ινδίες, p. 17.[/efn_note]
In 1913, the colonial government decided to expropriate the land of the Greek church and the Greek-Armenian cemetery for the construction of the Mitford Medical College (now renamed as Sir Salimullah Medical College Hospital). According to Father Halvatzakes-Velladios, the architect of the college was a Greek, named Doxiades, who requested the local authorities to convert the portico of the church to a Greek monument. The portico of the church was probably moved to the cite of the old Greek cemetery in Ramna, that existed before the construction of the Greek church at Chowk Bazar, as it is indicated by the dates given on six (out of nine) remaining gravestones.[efn_note] See Helen Abadzi’s article “Glimpses of the Greek Community from the Dhaka University Gravestones,” IΝΔΙΚΑ2005, where she tried to outline the history of the Greek community on the basis of information derived from nine gravestone inscriptions of the ninetieth-century Greek community in Bengal now preserved in a small ancient Greek temple-like building on the campus of Dhaka University.[/efn_note] The first picture of the monument appeared in the Calcutta newspaper “The Statesman” on the 28th of February 1915. This was accompanied by an article reporting that the old Greek cemetery that existed on the right side of the Ramna Road was abandoned and that the local people were stealing the tombstones for the construction of their own buildings. Father Middleton MacDonald, a British military priest, requested the chief engineer of the East Bengal to take better care of the place. Finally, Lord Carmichael, the then Governor of Bengal, ordered the construction of a monument for the protection of the tombstones. In the interior of the monument, nine gravestones of the Greek cemetery were placed. After the request of Mr. Mangos and the Ralli brothers (who probably donated the money for the design and construction of the monument), Athanassios Alexiou, the Archimandrite of the Greek community in Calcutta, came to Dhaka for the inauguration. (The Archimandrite appears in the center of the photograph along with the Anglican Chaplain and members of the Greek community.)[efn_note] π. Κωνσταντίνος Χαλβατζάκης-Βελλάδιος, Πόντιοι στις Ινδίες, p. 18.[/efn_note]
Six years later, in 1921, the construction of the University of Dhaka began on the same site. The Greek monument in the Doric order was left undisturbed and it can be seen today in the campus near the Teacher-Student Centre (T.S.C.) facing the campus wall at Kazi Nazrul Islam Road. The monument suffered heavy damage during the War of Independence in 1971 (and perhaps earlier, in 1952, during the students’ demonstration in favor of Bengali as the official language), but it was rebuilt a few years later. Additional cosmetic repairs were made in 1997 with expenses paid by the Greek Embassy in New Delhi.
The four sides of the ancient Greek temple-like building are identical. In the interior nine gravestone inscriptions are preserved in Greek and English. On the pediment, the following Biblical inscription is written on marble slabs, «ΜΑΚΑΡΙΟΙ ΟΥΣ ΕΞΕΛΕΞΩ ΚΑΙ ΠΡΟΣΕΛΑΒΟΥ,» which translated means, “Blessed are those whom You chose and took with You.”[efn_note]Cf. “Blessed are those you choose and bring near to live in your courts!” Psalms, 65: 4, NIV translation.[/efn_note] Father Halvatzakes-Velladios’s article has a drawing showing a cross on top of the monument, but this is no longer present.[efn_note]See also: Ulysses in the Raj; James Taylor, A Sketch of the Topography and Statistics of Dacca, pp. 87-88, 99, 254-255; and Syed Molid Taifoov, Glimpses to Old Dhaka, pp. 20-21.[/efn_note]
The Greek Church in Calcutta was shut down in 1960 after Archimandrite Athanassios Alexiou had blessed the last Greek immigrants who left for a new permanent residence in Greece and England. Nine years later, Father Kallistratos Adamou came from Australia on a two-year agreement to re-open the church. He arrived in October 1969 and, as he mentions in his small book “The History of the Greek Church in Calcutta” (Calcutta, 1970), in his time there were only 2 Greek men and 2 Greek ladies in Calcutta, 8 in Bombay, 2 in Delhi, 8 in Nepal and 10 in Pakistan. However, in the port of Calcutta, about 50 Greek ships arrived every month and some of their sailors would visit and assist him in his work in the church.
The last priest to preside over the Greek community of Bengal was Father Constantinos Halvatzakes-Velladios, who, in collaboration with the Greek Embassy in New Delhi, collected fifty thousand important documents from the archives of the Greek community in Bengal and from other Greeks who were living in the cities of Madras, Bombay, and Darjeeling. The oldest of these documents were written on papyrus from the 18th century and were in a dismal condition. The documents included: administrative records of the Greek communities, management books, bulky envelopes (containing correspondence with the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the monasteries of Mount Sinai, the Greek government, and the government of Bengal), and records of private importance.[efn_note]See π. Κωνσταντίνος Χαλβατζάκης-Βελλάδιος, “Τα Ιστορικά Αρχεία των Ελλήνων των Ινδιών,” σελς 1077-1084.[/efn_note] Father Halvatzakes-Velladios and the Greek Ambassador to Delhi, Dr. Vassilis Vitsaxis, became immediately aware of the historical significance of these documents and, seeing the decline of the Greek community, decided to ship them to the Archdiocese of Athens in the hope that they would be handed over to scholars for further study. Unfortunately, these documents were lost on the way, through negligence and bad management and never reached their destination. However, Father Halvatzakes-Velladios would write and publish glimpses of these documents in the Athenian Journal “Nea Estia.” These covered topics such as the visit of the Russian Czarevitch Alexandros to the Greek community of Bengal, the Greek monument in Dhaka, and some information about the release of the Greek captives who were transferred to Burma by the British after the Asia Minor disaster. He incorporated valuable information in his books Elladios[efn_note]π. Κωνσταντίνος Χαλβατζάκης-Βελλάδιος, Ελλάδιος ο της Πάσης Χώρας.[/efn_note] and The Greeks of Pontos in India,[efn_note]π. Κωνσταντίνος Χαλβατζάκης-Βελλάδιος, Πόντιοι στις Ινδίες, pp. 17-34. The writings of Elias Tantalides, (Ινδική Αλληλογραφία), who lived in Phanari, the Greek enclave in Constantinople, also contain valuable information. Further details concerning the history of the Greek community in Bengal are given by Burgi-Kyriazi, Dementrios Galanos: Enigme de la Reinaissance Orientale, pp. 18-21; Σαράντος Καργάκος, Δημήτριος Γαλανός ο Αθηναίος (1760-1833): Ο Πρώτος Έλληνας Ινδολόγος, pp. 19-25; and the article of Φάνης Μιχαλόπουλος, «Η Ελληνική Κοινότης της Καλκούτας, Ο Δημήτριος Γαλανός Πρόδρομος της Ινδολογίας».[/efn_note] in which he published his memoirs as a priest in Calcutta in the form of short essays, along with biographies of some notable Greeks in India, and some important documents relating to the last will of the philhellene widow Anna Rebeireo, resident of Calcutta, who died on February 11, 1785 and donated her property to the Greek priest Constantinos Parthenios.
The Greek community in Bengal that became the main vehicle of communication between the Greek and Indian peoples for two and half centuries, came to an end with the political and economic crisis in the state of Bengal in the middle of the twentieth century. The Ralli brothers sold their jute factory at Narayanganj in the 1960s and the only remains that exist to remind us of the Greeks in Bengal are the small ancient Greek temple-like building on the campus of Dhaka University, the well preserved neo-classical Orthodox church “Holy Transfiguration”, and the Cemetery Chapel of Prophet Elias in the historic Orthodox cemetery in Calcutta with more than 100 tombs and monuments. The tombstones, dating back to the eighteenth century, were taken away from the old cemetery that was sold in 1920 along with the church in Amratollah street. Most of the tombstones belong to Greeks and some belong to Russians and Bulgarians. Some of the foreigners buried there were sailors, while others died of leprosy and never went back to their homeland. The Greek priests came to the leper colonies where these men lived and gave them Holy Communion. The last Russian leper died in 1960. Some corpses were carried from Bangladesh (Dhaka) and buried in Calcutta. The last graves belong to Indian Orthodox.[efn_note]Helen Abadzi, Greeks in India (unpublished notes).[/efn_note]
A few long-term Greek residents are the descendants of those who had intermarried with Indians. George Papadopoulos, from an Indian mother and half Greek father (grandfather was Greek and grandmother Indian) had the bakery shop “ATTIKON” in the central, most expensive area of Calcutta, but knew very little Greek. He was very dark and tall, never married and died a few years ago.[efn_note]Ibid.[/efn_note]
Mr. Pavlides had a catering company supplying food to ships in the port of Calcutta, while Raptacos had a pharmaceutical company. Antonios Mangos, originally from Constantinople, who served as the last director for the Ralli Brothers’ Company, wrote a very interesting book with the title«Adventure Account», in which he refers to the Greek Company that he served for several decades in Calcutta and Mumbai. For the last 40 years, he has lived in Mumbai, married to a Parsee woman. He serves as an Honorary Consulate of Greece and goes to Greece every year for a few months.
A predominant intellectual was Mrs. Maximiani Potras, alias Savitri Devi Mukherjee, born in 1905 to a Greek father and English mother. She completed her M.Sc. and Ph.D. in literature in France and in 1940 married Asit Krishna Mukherjee, a Calcutta lawyer, who published the Pro-Nazi periodical “New Mercury” from 1935 until the British closed it down in 1937. In her autobiography, Souvenirs et Reflections d’une Aryenne (Memories and Reflections of an Aryan Lady) she expressed several ideas concerning the natural hierarchy of the races, the Nordic Aryan Invasion Theory, and the purity of the caste system.[efn_note]Quoted by Koenraad Elst, Linguistic Aspects of the Aryan Non-Invasion Theory, Voice of India, in print, pp. 23-26, references are from H. Lommel, Les Anciens Aryens, Gallimard, Paris, 1943.[/efn_note]
The most prominent of the contemporary Greek descendants from the North-eastern India is the award-winning actor George Baker, who now occupies one of the two reserved seats for the Anglo-Indians (Indian citizens of European descent) in the Indian Parliament (2015-2020).[efn_note] See Michael Safi, “The two MPs of British descent who do not have to stand in Indian election.” The Guardian (International Edition), 16 April 2019.[/efn_note]
In recent times, Paul Byron Norris, a fifth-generation descendant of Panagiotes Alexandros Argyres, who resides permanently in London, searched with great passion through the British historical archives to discover the cultural identity of his ancestors in Bengal. This led him to write a book in English with the title Ulysses in the Raj. In it he compiles, in a knowledgeable, enticing and pleasant manner abundant details about the Greek trade in India, the Greek Orthodox Church in Bengal, and the development of the Hellenic settlements in Bengal and northern India from the beginning of the seventeenth century onwards. In this unique account, the author follows the histories of some of the most notable families of the Greek community in Bengal such as the Rallis, the Corphiots, and the Paniotys, from their origins in Greece to their settlement and development in India. He also dedicates chapters to the founder of the Greek community, Panagiotes Alexandros Argyres, the notable merchant, Alexander Paniotys, the Athenian Brahmin Galanos; the mercenary Alexander Ghika; and the ‘patriotic pirate’ Nicholas Kephalas. In the book’s appendices, he includes details of a great number of the known Greek merchants in Bengal between 1750 and 1853.
Another recent publication is the illustrated and bilingual study, “A Chronicle of the Greeks in India 1750-1950” published in English and Greek and with rare photographs by Dione Marcos Dondis. She is a descendant of the Greek Community but has lived most of her life in Athens and Canada, although she never stopped to serve the cause of the Greek Community in Bengal. In the existing bibliography, Dondi’s book adds fresh elements in the history of the Greek community, as she resorts to personal interviews with surviving members of the Greek Community, whom she seeks and finds in Greece, India, and England. No doubt, personal experiences constitute the most reliable historical source, and in this case, the writer makes an important contribution as she records these last recollections before they are lost.
The Greek community had been flourishing in Bengal for centuries, but the Greek priests were mainly concerned with the fulfillment of the spiritual and religious needs of the Greek community. They did not interfere in the beliefs and religious practices of the Indians. It was only later, in 1980, that the systematic missionary work began by Father Athanasios Anthides, a Greek priest from Cairo in Egypt, who had already a life-long experience in Christian missions in Africa especially in Uganda. Father Athanasios, zealously inspired by his mission, came to India and established himself in the rural area of Arambagh, which is located one hundred and fifty kilometers northwest of Calcutta. There he built a small Orthodox church in the memory of the Apostle Thomas and a house for the appointed priest. In spite of his old age and health problems he worked tirelessly and succeeded in developing small Orthodox centers in fourteen villages. He also set up his own press and translated liturgical and catechism books into the local language. He continued to work alone without discouragement, even though his constant letters to Greece asking for support and assistants did not meet with any response. He lived in India for the last 10 years of his life and died there. He was buried on November 28, 1990, at the age of seventy.[efn_note]See Ιερομ. π. Ιγνάτιος Σταυρονικητιανός, «Οι Σπείροντες εν Δάκρυσιν,» p. δ.[/efn_note]
Next to his tomb, in the jungle of Arambagh, lies the tomb of a woman, Stamatia Papastamatiou, from Athens, who went to help him in India and died after one month. She had diabetes and lived without electricity and other comforts. Before he died, Fr. Athanasios prepared and ordinated two Indians as priests in his community.[efn_note]Helen Abadzi, Greeks in India (unpublished notes).[/efn_note]
One year after the death of Father Athanasios, Father Ignatios Pavlos Sennis, a Greek monk from the monastery of Stavronikita on Mount Athos, was appointed by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople to take over the management of the Greek Orthodox Church in Calcutta. Initially, he restored the building of the church and the nearby residence of the priest, which were in bad condition due to neglect for the past eighteen years. After restoration was completed, he began a substantial and extensive social welfare mission in Calcutta and its surrounding territories. Father Ignatios, encouraged by Sister Nektaria Paradeise’s overall dedication, and by the financial and physical support of numerous Greeks from Greece, U.S.A., Australia, and elsewhere, founded the Philanthropic Society of the Greek Orthodox Church. This society provides free medical care and distributes food and other essentials to those in need. The Philanthropic Society built an orphanage for fifty-five boys and one orphanage for two hundred girls, which are currently operating. Furthermore, it established three medical centers, two elementary schools in the villages of Satal and Arabhas, and three new Orthodox churches, Saint Charalambos Holy Trinity, and St. Nicholas for the spiritual needs of the Christians residing in the villages Akhina, Thrakuranichak, and Nerandrachak respectively. Also, Orthodox churches are under construction in Bandar and Gospur.[efn_note]Ιερομ. π. Ιγνάτιος Σταυρονικητιανός, «Οι Σπείροντες εν Δάκρυσιν,» pp. 5-16; and 1999 Calendar of the Orthodox Metropolitan of Hong Kong and Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, 1998.[/efn_note]
The Greek state acknowledged the importance of the social work carried out by the Greek church, with the official visit of H.E. the President of the Hellenic Republic Konstantinos Stefanopoulos in January 1998 and the then Minister of Foreign Affairs Georgios Papandreou in December 2000. Father Ignatios Pavlos Sennis left India in 2004 for Madagascar, where he started a new mission. Nevertheless, the remarkable work that he left behind continues to grow under the supervision of the Philanthropic Society of the Greek Orthodox Church that is now managed by Indian priests and the spiritual guidance of the Greek Metropolitan of Hong Kong. At the same time, a new and independent cultural association constituted by Indian philhellenes was set up in the cosmopolitan city of Calcutta with the name “Cyclos”, which publishes a periodical entitled “Parthenon” that proliferates Greek light in the megalopolis of Bengal.
Notes and References: