West Bengal gears up for Tagore’s 150th birth anniversary


Kolkata: Rabindranath Tagore’s birthplace at Jorasanko and his cremation ground at Nimtala will be renovated and his full collection of works will be published to mark the 150th birth anniversary celebrations of the poet Nobel laureate from West Bengal.

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Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee Monday said the year-long celebrations will also include bringing out a collection of Tagore’s paintings. The celebrations will be held in all district headquarters and universities.

The Indian government was in talks with Bangladesh to organise the Nobel laureate’s birth anniversary celebrations jointly.

Tagore, born May 7, 1861, got the Nobel Prize for literature in 1913 – the first Asian to get the coveted award.

He enriched Bengali culture and literature as a poet, novelist, musician, and playwright from the second half of the 19th century to the first half of the 20th century, and is still a household name in this part of the world with the popularity of his works yet undiminished.

Both India and Bangladesh have adopted Tagore’s songs as their national anthems.

Announcing the formation of a core committee headed by renowned poet and Bangla Academy president Nirendranath Chakraborty for the occasion, Bhattacharjee said various government institutions like the Natya Academy, Sangeet Academy, some central government bodies like Sahitya Academy and Lalit Kala Academy will be represented in the committee.

Vice chancellors of the Jadavpur, Calcutta and Visva Bharati universities, the Government Art College principal, the Heritage Commission chairman, the Women’s Commission chief and heads of the Asiatic Society and the National Library will also find a place in the panel.

The 28-member body, which will meet soon, has been authorised to draft in more members from other organisations and notable personalities.

The chief minister said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has promised him in writing of the central government’s help in organising the celebrations.

“For projects like renovating Jorasanko Thakurbari, where the poet was born, we need financial help from the centre. The Jorasanko project will cost us around Rs.1 crore. The central government funds are also needed for renovating the Nimtala burning ghat where the Nobel laureate was cremated,” he told reporters at the state secretariat.

The Bangla Academy has taken the responsibility to bring out a new comprehensive collection of the litterateur’s entire works.

The seminars will involve luminaries from both the country and abroad on topics like Tagore literature, arts and his philosophy.

He said apart from government programmes, some institutions like the Sishu Kishore Academy (Academy for Children and Teenagers), Calcutta University and Jadavpur University have also sought funds for celebrating the anniversary separately.

Bhattacharjee said his government also had plans to create permanent infrastructures like cultural auditoriums in the district to mark the celebrations. “But for this I need help from the central government. Though the prime minister has promised funds, I am yet to get that. I am waiting for that before making more announcements.”