To celebrate Indian Independence Day, August 15, a sculpture of Sister Nivedita, Margaret Noble, born in Dungannon in 1867, was unveiled at Ranfurly House Arts & Visitor Centre.
Born as Margaret Elizabeth Noble, she was more popularly known as Sister Nivedita. She was an Anglo-Irish social worker, who was one amongst the many disciples of Swami Vivekananda. The word Nivedita is used to refer to someone who is highly dedicated to the almighty God.
Sister Nivedita became so inspired with the teachings and vision of Vivekananda that she forsook her career in England and travelled to India. In India, Sister Nivedita threw herself into Indian culture, serving the Indian people and living the Hindu religion. She won over the hearts of Indian people with her self-giving and devotion to the plight of Indian people. Particularly her contribution to India was immense in uplifting the cause of women and poor.
Welcoming the Indian visitors to Dungannon, Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, Councillor Trevor Wilson said, “The unveiling of this sculpture forms a formal link between Sister Nivedita’s birthplace here in Dungannon and her workplace in Kolkata, India. To this day, she remains a well-respected figure through her long lasting work in education and establishing numerous schools, colleges and academies. She had a particular passion for art, so it is fitting that this celebration takes place in our Arts & Visitor Centre in Dungannon.
“The day is significant as it begins the start of celebrations of Sister Nivedita’s 150th birth anniversary and opens a new chapter of Indo-Irish friendship and collaborations for the future.”
A number of dignitaries from India attended the celebration including Swami Sarvalokananda, Principal Monk of Khar Ramakrishna Mission, India and Swami Purnanandaji, spiritual director of Eire Vedanta Society. Also in attendance was Mr. Mrinal Chowdhury, former Mayor of Harrow, London.
The terracotta sculpture was donated by Halo Heritage, an Indian Art and Heritage research organisation to Sister Nivedita’s grand-niece, Mrs Selenda Girardine during her visit to India in 2015. Mrs Girardine, decided to donate the statue to Dungannon, Sister Nivedita’s birth place.
The unveiling ceremony was followed by speeches from dignitaries on Sister Nivedita’s contributions to the Indian freedom movement and her relevance to younger generations.
Indian dance performances and group songs were presented during the ceremony.