‘Bishesh Rabindra Puraskar' conferred on Dwijen Mukhopadhyay
Not only West Bengal, but the whole world too has become captivated by Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore in the course of the celebrations of his birth anniversary, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said here on Tuesday, the day that marked the conclusion of the sesquicentennial year.
Citing extracts from some of the poems penned by the national poet as examples, Ms. Banerjee said “Rabindranath's language on the one hand can be very complex and then again can be very easy to follow.”
Ms. Banerjee courted controversy last year for “celebrating” the death anniversary of the poet in August last year and using the occasion to kick start the official celebrations of the 150 birth anniversary, “because we were not in power in May,” the month in which the Nobel Laureate was born.
At an event organised by the State government during the day, Ms. Banerjee reiterated: “We did not get a chance to celebrate the 150 birth anniversary as we had not formed the government then. This is the first birth anniversary our government has got and we are celebrating it.”
The State government instituted the ‘Bishesh Rabindra Puraskar' for the occasion and conferred it on renowned Rabindra sangeet exponent Dwijen Mukhopadhyay.
The ceremony was followed by recital of songs and poems penned by Tagore.
Since the crack of dawn, people thronged the premises of the Jorasanko Thakurbari in central Kolkata – the ancestral home of the Tagore family where Rabindranath Tagore was born. His admirers could get a chance to visit the room in which he was born, in the part of the premises that has been converted into a museum.
Several programmes have been lined up in the coming days as a part of the celebrations. A three-day festival of documentary films on Rabindranath Tagore, including the one made by legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray, is going to be organised at the Nandan complex from Wednesday. An exhibition titled, ‘Rabindranath's concerns for the environment' has also been organised within the same complex.
We were denied entry, says DYFI
The government triggered a controversy here on Tuesday, by denying entry to members of the student and youth wings of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Left leaning intellectuals at the gates of the Rabindra Sadan.
“Can the statue of Rabindranath Tagore be put under lock and key on Rabindra Jayanti,” asked Abhash Roy Choudhury, State secretary of the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI).
Members of the DYFI and the Students Federation of India (SFI) took out a procession to protest the government's decision to break with the tradition of observing the occasion in front of the Tagore statue in the complex. There was another procession taken out at that time by Left-leaning artists and writers and the two joined ranks.
The Trinamool Congress-led government has changed both the venue and the time of the function.
“For years the State government observed Rabindra Jayanti at an official function in the morning at Rabindra Sadan We felt that there was nothing objectionable in continuing with this tradition,” Mr. Roy Choudhury said.
The organisers of the processions had wanted to keep the tradition alive by paying floral tributes at the statue. However, when they reached the gates of the Rabindra Bhavan complex they were not allowed to enter, he added.
In protest they hung a photograph of the Poet on the locked gates and paid their tributes. They also sang songs written by him and recited extracts from his writings in a make-shift arrangement on the streets outside.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee brushed the protests aside by stating that it was the prerogative of the committee set up by the State government for the celebrations of the 150 birth anniversary to decide on the venue and timing of the function.
“Some people may like it and some may not like it. The creation belongs to the person who envisaged it. And it is up to the committee for the sesquicentennial celebrations to decide on the time and venue,” she said at the official function organised later in the day.
Rural Development Minister Subrata Mukherjee said that had the protestors applied for prior permission, they would have been allowed inside the Rabindra Sadan premises.
“Is there a need to apply for prior permission to garland a statue of Rabindranath Tagore on the day of his birth,” Mr. Roy Choudhury asked.