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Warrior god wins a battle

Chinese church reopens after a decade of litigation
The shrine at the Toong On Church

The spirit of a Chinese warrior god and the resilience of a community have helped save a church dedicated to the deity in the heart of the city after a decade of litigation.

Lamps were lit and the hum of prayers echoed in the freshly painted hall of the Toong On Church at 22 Blackburn Lane, off New CIT Road in central Calcutta, on Saturday for the first time since the building got dragged into a property dispute.

“Our efforts to save our church have paid off. We are delighted,” Li Han Kuang, the secretary of the Toong On Church, told Metro.

The first prayer session marked the birth anniversary of the deity, Guan Di. A dragon dance and a feast followed the prayers.

The battle to save the church may have been won but the war is far from over for the Chinese, whose population in the city has dwindled to less than 2,000.

Two garbage vats in the vicinity of the church have marred the joy of winning back the building. “We have started a movement to restore the sanctity of the place,” said Dominic Lee, a resident.

Construction of the church had started in 1917 and the structure was completed in 1924. “It used to be the nucleus of the vibrant Chinese culture in the city,” said secretary Kuang.

According to Kuang, the church had rented out the ground floor to a Chinese businessman in the Forties to generate funds for its upkeep. He opened an eatery named Nanking.

The going was smooth till 2000, when the businessman’s grandson Au Yau Wah tried to sell off the property.

The dispute went to court and dragged till Wah’s death. The community got back possession of the church last month after both sides withdrew their cases.

ZEESHAN JAWED

Source: Telegraph India