Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 2nd 2015 Contents A27
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Star Wars filmmaker
George Lucas' plans to build a
US$400 museum along the
shores of Chicago's Lake
Michigan have been ap-
The city council voted
overwhelming in favour of
the 300,000 sq ft Lucas Mu-
seum of Narrative Art.
The museum will house
artefacts, costumes and
memorabilia from movies in-
cluding Star Wars and Indi-
ana Jones, along with art-
works collected by Lucas.
The director decided last
year to build it in Chicago in-
stead of San Francisco.
The city in Lucas' home
state of California was widely
expected to be chosen as the
museum's site, as it is home
to Lucasfilm's visual effects
division, so it was considered
a major coup for Chicago
when it was announced.
Lucas does have ties with
Chicago though, the third
largest city in the US, which
he has referred to as his "sec-
ond home" in the past, and is
from where his wife, Mellody
Hobson, hails. (BBC)
George Lucas museum given go ahead in Chicago
When you look up at the creatures perched
on top of the Lion House on the
Chaguanas Main Road, you may won-
der what they are, exactly. Are they really lions?
Or are they monkeys? Or perhaps some half-
remembered, hybrid mythological creatures?
The last may come closest to the truth: although
they are meant to be lions---symbols of strength---
every aspect of the Lion House (its real name is
actually The Mansion of Bliss---Anand Bhavan)
was conceived through the imagination of its
builder, Pundit Capildeo, who was trying to recreate
from his own memory the structures and symbols
he associated with his own original homeland in
Uttar Pradesh in India. He built the house himself,
using clay bricks he made in his backyard. The
construction process itself is a remarkable feat of
will and hard work.
Pundit Capildeo (originally called Kapil) built
the house to celebrate his ancestors in India as
well as the position his Trinidad family had
achieved in Chaguanas society, rising from very
humble beginnings. Father Anthony de Verteuil
in his book, East Indian Immigrants, describes
the inspiration for the Mansion of Bliss as "...a
city dwelling in the town of Gorakpur, in the
county of the same name, from which Kapil had
emigrated and in which his family had lived, for
so many generations. Indeed, the architectural
style of the building, like his family, went
back centuries." He noted that the brutally
stark pillars, the plain walls and the flat
roof mirrored the early Gupta style of the
fifth century AD.
Called Lion House by the public, the
Capildeo home became a meeting place
for Hindu travellers, and an early commu-
nity centre for Chaguanas residents who
would often relax or debate issues of the
day there, according to the site www.the-
lionhouse.com. Ganja was sold and con-
sumed there, quite peacefully and legally.
Panchayats or village councils were held
there, to resolve local disputes.
Today, the house stands as a memorial
to the thousands of Hindu Indian immi-
grants who came to T&T over 100 years
ago. It is a site of great heritage importance.
And it is rotting away.
Pundit Capildeo (born 1873) originally
left his home village of Mahadeva Dubey
in 1894, and subsequently sailed to Trinidad,
arriving here on the ship The Hereford on
December 27, 1894, to work in the canefields
as an indentured labourer.
"There were 597 persons who left on the
Hereford in Calcutta; after three months,
they landed in Trinidad, and on the voyage,
40 persons died," said Prof Brinsley Samaroo
on a tour of the house last week.
Pundit Capildeo rose to become a busi-
nessman, landowner, canefarmer and pun-
dit, who built his Mansion of Bliss in 1924-
1926---30 years after first coming to the
In 1926, the year he finished building his
house, he returned to India for a visit, where
he died, leaving behind in Trinidad a close-
knit family whose descendants would go
on to achieve great things in academics, in
the professions, and in literary arts.
Pundit Capildeo was the grandfather of
Continues on Page A28
A front view of the Mansion
of Bliss/Lion House.
Detail from the Mansion of Bliss/Lion House in Chaguanas:
the lions represented strength. PHOTOS: FRANKA PHILIP
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