Rabindranath Tagore’s poetry, writing, and even his art were appreciated at a tribute titled Ekla Chalo Re (Go your way alone) here at Forman Christian College on Monday.
The event, marking 100 years since Tagore became the first non-European and first South Asian to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, was arranged by the History Department and the Ewing Literary Society.
Dr Yaqoob Bangash, a history professor at the college, told The Express Tribune that Tagore was opposed to the traditional model of education and himself never finished his university degree, though he later received honorary degrees including one from Oxford University in 1940.
He said Tagore was multitalented and wrote exceptional poetry, novels, plays, operas and philosophical tracts and even made fine paintings. Gitanjali, a collection of 157 poems, made him world famous and formed the main body of work for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize, he said.
The tribute kicked off with a presentation of Tagore’s paintings, followed by renditions of his poetry in song and recitation, clips from a documentary on Tagore by Oscar winner Satyajit Ray, and the narration of a short story.
“It is a tribute to a great writer, painter, poet and a philosopher,” said Dr Bangash, who is also a columnist. “Tagore was very patriotic though he was not a big supporter of nationalism, as nationalism rejects other countries whereas patriotism is being proud of your country without necessarily rejecting other countries.”
The programme ended with a recitation of Amar Sonar Bangla, the national anthem of Bangladesh, read in Bengali, English and Urdu, as a sign of solidarity with the Bengalis and a celebration of the poet who was once banned in the former East Pakistan.
Tagore, the programme emphasised, is a South Asian laureate and must be remembered and celebrated as such.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 21st, 2013.