The year-and-half-long celebrations in Sri Lanka of the 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore concluded in Colombo on Tuesday with the unveiling of his bust at the University of Colombo.

The bronze bust, sculpted by Janak Jhankar Narzary, sculptor and Professor of Art History at Kala Bhavana, Visva-Bharati, was gifted by the Indian Ministry of Culture.

Tagore’s three visits to Sri Lanka in 1922, 1928 and 1934 and two transit halts had a deep and lasting influence on the art and culture of Sri Lanka. It contributed to the country’s cultural resurgence, inspiring artists, dancers and singers to develop their genres into classical forms. Prominent Sri Lankan artists like Ananda Samarakoon, Chitrasena and Sunil Shantha attended Visva-Bharati University and were greatly influenced by their association with him. 

On the other hand, Tagore was himself impressed by Kandyan dance and mask dance of Sri Lanka and adapted some of their elements in his later choreographic productions.

The bust was unveiled by Sri Lankan Minister of External Affairs G L Peiris in the presence of Ashok K. Kantha, High Commissioner of India, and Kshanika Hirimburegama, Vice Chancellor, University of Colombo, at the Main Library of the University.

Many events were organised as part of the celebrations across Sri Lanka by the Indian High Commission in association with Sri Lankan universities and organisations. This included seminars, commemorative volumes and a special postal stamp by the Sri Lankan Ministry of Postal Services. The classic theatre work, Shaap Mochan, was also re-enacted. Tagore had performed in Colombo and Jaffna in May 1934, which was appreciated widely including by former Prime Minister S W R D Bandaranaike.

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