On the 1st of July, Torridge Councillor and Great Torrington Mayor Doug Smith travelled to Wimbledon, London, to unveil a statue to honour Margaret Noble better known as Sister Nivedita. Sister Nivedita was a celebrated educator and a champion of the poor in India, with strong family ties to Great Torrington, where a half-bust statue was unveiled in 2019.
Standing at an impressive height of 6.2 ft, the bronze statue was fabricated and cast in India by artist Nirjan De, Sarada Sarkar of the Sister Nivedita Celebrations Committee. The figure stands before Richard’s Lodge High School for Girls, paying tribute to Sister Nivedita’s legacy as a strong and independent woman and champion of educational opportunities for women. The statue faces southeast, towards Bengal, symbolising the connection between the two regions.
Margaret Elizabeth Noble was born in 1867 in Great Torrington but spent most of her life in India where she gained a reputation as an educationalist and a campaigner for India’s freedom movement. She met Swami Vivekananda in 1895 in London and subsequently travelled to Calcutta. There, she established a girls’ school in 1898 with the intention of providing education to girls who had been deprived of even the most basic education. She was given the name Nivedita, meaning “dedicated to god.” During the plague epidemic in Calcutta in 1899, she nursed people experiencing poverty. Sister Nivedita was closely associated with the Ramakrishna Mission and later also made an active contribution in the field of Indian Nationalism.
The impressive memorial in Great Torrington and now also in London will hopefully mean that future generations will be reminded of her remarkable achievements in India and her connection to Torridge and the town of her birth.
Councillor Doug Smith, Torridge District Council and Great Torrington Mayor, said:
“The people of Great Torrington are so pleased to be connected to this amazing woman. Her legacy has forged new links and friendships that stretch across many countries, and we look forward to welcoming the many visitors that will come to view her grave and memorial as a place of pilgrimage. It was an honour to be invited to the event in London and to be welcomed to take part in the unveiling. Another fitting tribute to a remarkable woman”.