KOLKATA (C.M. Paul) – A Kolkata parish kept a cultural event marking 150th birthday of India’s and Bengal’s first Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, 22 August. The Sunday evening’s three-hour long cultural extravaganza consisted of dance, songs, story telling and recitation, all from the prodigious Tagore collection in Bengali language. Children and adults vied with each other to render homage to the Bengali legend.
“We want to hold the celebrations in a fitting manner giving opportunities for young people to display their cultural talents,” says parish priest of Auxilium parish, Salesian Fr. Joseph Pellissery.
“Kabi guru Rabindranath was inspired by several passages from the Bible which he readily used in the composition of his songs popularly known as Rabindra Sangeet,” says former Bengali language teacher of Don Bosco School Park Circus Mr. Ranjit Biswas. He delighted the audience recounting anecdotes from Tagore’s life especially narrating Rabindranth’s childhood experiences as well as his first poetry at the tender age of seven years.
May 9, 2011 marks the 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore, one of India’s most important cultural touchstones. He was born in Kolkata in 1861 the youngest of thirteen surviving children, in the Jorasanko mansion in Kolkata of parents Debendranath Tagore (1817–1905) and Sarada Devi (1830–1875).
Tagore family patriarchs were the Brahmo samaj founding fathers. He was mostly raised by servants, as his mother had died in his early childhood; his father travelled extensively. Tagore largely declined classroom schooling, preferring to roam the mansion or nearby idylls: Bolpur, Panihati, and others. For a short period Tagore studied at St Xavier’s School Kolkata. Upon his upanayan initiation at age eleven, Tagore left Kolkata on 14 February 1873 to tour India with his father for several months.
Tagore became a novelist, playwright, poet, musician, artist, social reformer and a central figure in the Indian modernist movement. He was a revolutionary educationist who set up the concept of an open-air university in 1901 with the Visva-Bharati in Santiniketan, West Bengal. He also composed Indian national anthem. And it was also from his poem “Gitanjali,” often cited as a key component of his Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913 that India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru quoted, to usher in independence in 1947.
When Tagore won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913 he was the first non-European to win it. Tagore died , 7 August 1941.