Curtains came down on the 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore in Sri Lanka, on Tuesday with the unveiling of a bust at the University of Colombo. Tagore has been the most influential person in the Sri Lankan culturescape.
The Bronze bust, sculpted by Janak Jhankar Narzary, sculptor and Professor of Art History in Kala Bhavana, Visva-Bharati, was gifted by the Indian Ministry of Culture.
“The official celebrations started last May when the special commemorative volume brought out by the University of Colombo was released along with a special postal stamp by the government of Sri Lanka,” said the Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Ashok K.Kantha. “What has really touched us is the genuine interest in, and affection for Tagore in Sri Lanka,” he added.
Tagore’s three visits to Sri Lanka in 1922, 1928 and 1934 and two transit halts had a deep and lasting influence in art and culture of Sri Lanka. It contributed to the country’s cultural resurgence, inspiring artistes, dancers and singers to develop their genres to classical forms. Prominent Sri Lankan artists such as Ananda Samarakoon (the Sri Lankan national anthem, set to Rabindra Sangeeth, was written by him), Chitrasena and Sunil Shantha attended Visva-Bharati University and they 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 he adapted some elements of those dances in his later choreographic productions.
The bust was unveiled by Sri Lankan Minister of External Affairs G.L. Peiris.
Many events were organised across Sri Lanka by the Indian High Commission in association with the Sri Lankan universities and organisations during the celebrations. This included seminars, commemorative volumes, Rabindra sangeeth, and discussions on art, music and culture. The classic theatre work, ‘Shaap Mochan,’ was also re-enacted. Tagore had acted in Colombo and Jaffna in May 1934 which was appreciated widely, including by SWRD Bandaranaike, former Prime Minister.