Kolkata born and internationally acclaimed photographer decides to turn streets of Rome as his open air gallery to portray Kolkata – the city that gave Mother Teresa her name.
Initiates a two week long civilian movement called “The Sainthood Project” to coincide with Mother Teresa’s Canonosation as a Saint.
He sent ripples through Kolkata doing what no one had ever done before – make 50 of the city’s rickshaw pullers – who have for long been social pariahs, shunned and neglected, the chief guest at his summer 2016 show “Stone – Being and Becoming”.
And now, internationally acclaimed photographer Kounteya Sinha is all set for another coup of sorts – the first ever crowd funded show to portray the city of his birth – Kolkata in Rome.
Crowd funding is the practice of funding a project raising money through donations from a large number of people.
His unique new idea – The Sainthood Project, interestingly, will coincide with the canonisation of Mother Teresa as a saint in the Vatican. Calling Kolkata “the city that gave Mother Teresa her name”, Kounteya who has lived outside the City of Joy for nearly 16 years, intends to turn Rome’s iconic cobbled streets, as his open air gallery.
Mother Teresa, the Roman Catholic nun spent 45 years serving the poor and sick on the streets of Kolkata.
Kounteya who is presently shooting all over Kolkata will unveil “The Sainthood Project” on August 24 outside the Vatican. For 12 straight days, Kounteya will stand on the streets of Rome and showcase photographs of Kolkata. He has picked 11 major spots which will become his open air gallery – Vatican City, the Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona, Palantine Hill, Vatican Museum, Pantheon, Spanish Steps, Colosseum, St Peter’s Basilica, Galleria Borghese and in front of the Roman Forum.
He will exhibit 50 photographs of Kolkata under The Sainthood Project.
Kounteya repeats Mother Teresa’s words — Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.
“This is my way of doing a small thing for the city I so love. For me Kolkata isn’t just about Victoria Memorial or the Howrah Bridge. Kolkata’s real soul lies hidden in its incredible -lanes, among meandering streets where the energy of this ancient city is so very palpable. Kolkata’s magnanimity comes from its people – the unknown faces that I intend to reveal”.
“The whole world will gather in Rome around September 6 to celebrate the canonisation of Mother Teresa as a Saint. I just want the world to know the city that made her a household name globally”.
“It was Kolkata that gave Mother Teresa her identity. She did incredible things for the poor and the needy in Kolkata and this city in return welcomed and embraced her with open arms. It is therefore a love story that I want to narrate in Rome,” Kounteya adds.
So how exactly does Kounteya intend to fund his project?
“Kolkatans are a race of very proud people – those living in the city and millions living all across the world. Irrespective how far they are from the city, they carry Kolkata in their sleeve wherever they go. I am all set to announce the Sainthood Project through the world’s top crowd funding sites. I will appeal to the world to donate whatever little they can and allow me to showcase Kolkata’s real soul to the world in Rome. We will soon have a bank account where people can donate. Every penny that comes in will be accounted for at the end of the two weeks in Rome. Kolkatans are nature very generous. I am sure they will come forward,” Kounteya adds.
“I will have musicians and story tellers, film makers and photographers – all standing on the roads of Rome, telling people what Kolkata is all about. We want the world to come to Kolkata and see it – feel its pulse, embrace its warmth, communicate with its ever so charming people, eat its finger licking food, walk through its clean and dirty streets, sit and have a meal with those who live in the slums and above all walk the same roads that Mother Teresa once did”.
“Anybody is free to join The Sainthood Project. Leave everything, come to Rome this August,” Kounteya says.
“This is a civilian project. Everyone coming on board is purely doing so for the love of Kolkata. It will be a very proud moment for the whole of India when Mother Teresa is declared a Saint. She was India’s Teresa. I will appeal to all Indians in India and abroad to help me with this dream project,” Kounteya adds.
Teresa will be declared a saint on Sept 4 Pope Francis. She founded the Missionaries of Charity – a sisterhood that runs 19 homes and won the Nobel Peace Prize. She died in 1997 – aged 87 – and was beatified in 2003, the first step to sainthood.
Born in 1910 to Albanian parents, Agnese Gonxha Bojaxhiu grew up in what is now the Macedonian capital, Skopje. Kounteya has actually travelled to the town of her birth to be able to understand her roots.
She was just 19 years old when she joined the Irish order of Loreto and in 1929 was sent to India under the name of Therese. In 1946 she moved to Kolkata to help the destitute and founded the Missionaries of Charity in 1950. The sisterhood now has 4,500 nuns worldwide and he achieved worldwide acclaim for her work in Kolkata’s slums.
During the canonisation ceremony, the Pope conducts a special Mass, reading aloud the individual’s life history and then chanting a prayer in Latin that declares the person a saint.
Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims are expected to attend Mother Teresa’s canonisation. It will be broadcasted across 17 large screens all over the Vatican Square.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee will be travelling to Rome to attend the canonization ceremony. Banerjee will be accompanied Sister Prema and Archbishop D’Souza in Rome. “I have accepted Sister Prema’s invitation to be present at the canonization of blessed Mother Teresa in Rome on September 4,” said Mamata Banerjee on Twitter.