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Bengal celebrates Tagore’s 157th birth anniversary

 Kolkata, May 9: West Bengal on Wednesday paid tribute to Asia’s first Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore on the bard’s 157th birth anniversary, with his songs, poems and plays reverberating across the state. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee extended her wishes via Twitter. “Today is the birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore. My tribute to the great poet and writer on Pochishe Boishakh (the 25th day of the first month of the Bengali calendar Baisakh when the poet was born),” she said. It has been an age-old custom to celebrate Tagore’s birthday as per the Bengali calendar.

Since morning, people came out in ethnic attire to celebrate the occasion with offerings of Tagore’s popular songs, enactments of his plays and readings from the works of the polymath. Cultural programmes, including the famous dance dramas composed by Tagore, were organised in a large number of educational institutions, clubs and localities across the state. Political parties and non-governmental organisations also joined in. A huge gathering was seen before Tagore’s birthplace Jorasanko Thakurbari (the sprawling ancestral house of the Tagores at north Kolkata’s Jorasanko), where the room where he was born was thrown open to the public through the day. Well-known singers, elocutionists and dancers participated in a cultural programme in the courtyard of the house. Special prayers were organised in Birbhum district’s Shantiniketan – the knowledge town of Tagore’s dreams that blossomed into the Viswa Bharati University in 1921.
Tagore, who holds the unique distinction of having composed the national anthems of two countries – India and Bangladesh – was remembered in Bangladesh and many other countries of the globe by Bengali culture enthusiasts. “‘If no one heeds your call then march alone. If everyone keeps their mouth shut and is afraid, then with an open heart you speak your mind freely and March alone.’ This saying by Gurudev #RabindranathTagore has been a source of inspiration in my life…,” Nobel Peace Prize recipient Kailash Satyarthi tweeted. The Nobel Prize Committee paid homage on Monday. “We’re celebrating the birthday of a true great: Rabindranath Tagore… The first non-European Literature Laureate, he was awarded the #NobelPrize because of his profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse….” Born on this day Vaisakha 25, 1320, according to Bengali calendar (May 7, 1861, according to the Roman calendar), Tagore in 1913 became the first Asian Nobel laureate and the first non-European to win the prize for literature. (IANS)

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Ankur Kalita