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To mark Tilak’s death centenary, Pune NGO aims to revive spirit of ‘Lal-Bal-Pal’

Bal Gangadhar Tilak at work, editing his newspaper Kesari .  

In a bid to revive the Independence-era spirit of the ‘Lal-Bal-Pal’, named after nationalists Lala Lajpat Rai, ‘Lokmanya’ Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Bipin Chandra Pal, and to mark the death centenary of Tilak, Pune-based non-governmental organisation (NGO) ‘Sarhad’ will launch a series of literary and cultural programmes to strengthen connections between Maharashtra and West Bengal.

The programmes are to be inaugurated on August 1 through videoconferencing in the presence of Chief Ministers of West Bengal, Punjab and Maharashtra.

Sarhad’s two-year-long event, ‘Maharashtra-Bengal friendship chapter’, and envisioned as a people’s cultural revivalist movement in these two States, will commence on Tilak’s death centenary (August 1, 1920-August 1, 2020) and will go on till August 15, 2022 to mark the 150th birth anniversary of the great philosopher, Sri Aurobindo Ghosh.

“We are in touch with the offices of Mamata Banerjee, Capt. Amarinder Singh and Uddhav Thackery, as well as with Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar. Their response has been most positive. We have also spoken with the descendants of Lala Lajpat Rai, Lokmanya Tilak and Bipin Chandra Pal who have expressed their readiness to participate in the various programmes from August 1,” said Sanjay Nahar, founder, Sarhad.

Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Nahar said the idea for this ‘revivalist event’ had germinated as far back as 2015, when ‘Sarhad’, well-known for its service in helping students living in the country’s conflict zones, had helped organise the 88th edition of the Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan (All-India Marathi Literary Festival) in Ghuman in Punjab where the podium was named after ‘Lal-Bal-Pal’.

“Punjab, Bengal and Maharashtra have played significant roles during the struggle for Indian Independence. The historical association and cultural bonds among the three States was solidified in the modern era by the trinity of ‘Lal-Bal-Pal’. In a way, these leaders also represent the bonds that writers, poets and artists from these States have shared over so many years,” Mr. Nahar said.

The triumvirate had played a stellar role in the second phase of the Swadeshi movement which gathered momentum after the partition of Bengal by Lord Curzon in 1905, and which called for the boycott of all imported items and the use of Indian-made goods.

Socio-cultural bonds

“After Independence, while the socio-cultural bonds between Maharashtra and Punjab have grown stronger, our ties with Bengal have somewhat weakened, despite a rich pedigree of literary and cultural affinity in the past,” Mr. Nahar said.

For instance, Rabindranath Tagore’s older brother Satyendranath, who was the first Indian to join the Indian Civil Service (ICS), had momentous interactions with several notable figures of Maharashtra, including Tilak and the legendary Indologist R.G. Bhandarkar, during his numerous postings in the State.

“Satyendranath Tagore had translated Tilak’s Geetarahasya and Sant Tukaram’s abhangs [devotional poetry] into Bengali, while Rabindranath Tagore had penned a poem on Chhatrapati Shivaji. In the mid-1970s, eminent Marathi litterateur P.L. Deshpande, known as ‘Pu La’, had visited Tagore’s Shantiniketan and had penned his masterful Vang-Chitre soon after. It is precisely such ties that we seek to revive through this mega cultural event,” Mr. Nahar said.

He said around 50 literary works in Bengali, Marathi and Punjabi would be translated into respective vernaculars.

A number of Marathi plays would be performed in Bengali and Punjabi and vice-versa, while Bengali films would be screened in Pune and other places.

He said Sarhad would be facilitating the publishing of these translated works.

“We are in constant communication with members of the Bengali Association in Pune, as well as in Nagpur, a known centre of Bengali art and culture,” Mr. Nahar said.

Additionally, the NGO was working on a coffee table book to highlight the socio-cultural interaction between Bengal and Maharashtra throughout modern history, he informed.


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Printable version | Oct 28, 2021 11:28:04 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/to-mark-tilaks-death-centenary-pune-ngo-aims-to-revive-spirit-of-lal-bal-pal/article31909160.ece

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