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Tagore anniversary celebrations begin in Santiniketan

Santiniketan (IANS) Hundreds of people from India and abroad congregated in the sylvan surroundings of the Visva-Bharati university here as the celebrations of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore's 150th birth anniversary got off to a colourful start Sunday.

The university, founded by Tagore in 1921, reverberated at dawn to his touching songs as students and teachers - resplendent in traditional dresses - went around the campus in a procession singing his compositions.

Everybody then assembled at Chatimtala - the exact spot under a chatim tree where the poet's father Debendranath had established an ashram way back in 1863 - and took part in prayers that culminated in a rendition of a series of devotional songs composed by the bard, who holds the distinction of having authored the national anthems of two sovereign nations India and Bangladesh.

An exhibition of Tagore's paintings was inaugurated at the Nandan Art Gallery of the university's fine arts wing Kala Bhavan. It was followed by the opening of a photo exhibition at Rabindra Bhavan museum.

Vice chancellor Rajat Kanta Roy also launched a computer literacy programme at the Rural Reconstruction wing at Sriniketan, the varsity's second campus. In the evening, a performance of Tagore's famous dance drama Tasher Desh was scheduled at Gour Prangan at the centre of the ashram.

The university has drawn up elaborate plans to celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of its guiding spirit - who is almost unparalleled in the world for the richness, vastness and diversity of his literary oeuvre.

Tagore (1861-1941) was the first Asian to win the Nobel prize for literature in 1921. His 150th birth anniversary falls on May 9 next year.

The university will bring out a four-volume Rabindra Chitraavali (collection of Tagore paintings) in partnership with publisher 'Pratikshan,' for which the central government has already given the nod.

It would also construct a new twin museum complex, on Tagore's thoughts and fine arts, and publish a chronological anthology of the entire works of the bard under the project 'Kalanukramik Rabindra Rachanabali'.

Roy said over the next two years the university will organize programmes of Tagore's songs, dances, plays, dance dramas and films based on his writings.

There were also plans to publish research-based books on Tagore, he said.

Tagore enriched the Bengali culture and literature as a poet, novelist, musician and playwright from the second half of the 19th century to the first half of the 20th century, and is still a household name in this part of the world with the popularity of his works yet undiminished.

Santinketan is located in Bolpur town of West Bengal's Birbhum district.

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