Programme to honour Bengali poets

Auckland based Bhabna New Zealand will honour five Bengali poets tomorrow (June 2) as a part of its anniversary celebrations.

Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), Dwijendralal Ray (1863-1913), Rajanikanta Sen (1865-1910), Atul Prasad Sen (1871-1934), Kazi Nazrul Islam (1899-1976) will be among the bards whose works will be remembered at the event, scheduled to be held from about 5 pm at Avondale College auditorium.

‘Tasher Desh,’ an expanded version of Tagore’s short story, will be the highlight of the programme. This work is a combination of his short story ‘Ekti Ashare Galpa’ and his poem, ‘Banijye Boshoti Lakshmi.’

Alice in Wonderland (written by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, under his penname Lewis Carroll) and the Western Opera inspired Tagore when he wrote ‘Tasher Desh,’ as a satirical portrayal of a society ruled by strict conventions and a veiled criticism of the British Raj.

Child power

The great poet had profound faith in the potent power of childhood innocence. He was an eternal optimist and believed in the capacity of travel to cultivate the innermost spirit.

These philosophies are delineated in ‘Tasher Desh,’ where Tagore’s conviction of the arts as a dynamic instrument for education is exemplified. Here, the battle between freshness and orthodoxy progresses through a dance-opera narrative that is a dramatic combination of dialogue, dance, music and song.

The music of ‘Tasher Desh’ is a stylistic blend of Indian classical music ragas and Western opera. It was unique to Tagore, who wrote the script and lyrics and composed the melodies.

Cultural integration

The story tells of a Prince and a Merchant who arrive on an island of segregated clans and set about encouraging them to mix. Although written more than 75 years ago, Tagore’s call for a mixed melting pot of communities to get to know one another better has an abiding message for the present times.

Set in a seemingly naïve context, a heroic stereotype, embodied by the Prince, thirsts for adventure and the challenge of the unknown. He is flung into a land of childlike imagination.

It is no coincidence that Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ inspired the characters in the Land of Cards. The rigid metaphor of the cards beautifully encapsulates the sterility of caste, class and regulation. Only the wild, unfettered chaotic nature of the Prince can demolish this arthritic rigidity and compel effective change.

The forthcoming programme, open to all, would be ninth in annual series of Bhabna, which is marking its 11th year of establishment.

What: Annual Cultural Programme

Who: Bhabna New Zealand

Where: Avondale College Theatre

51 Victor Street, Avondale

When: June 2 at about 5 pm
Contact: Satyabrata Maity on (09) 8452989 or 021687704

Tapas Kumar Mandal is a former President of Bhabna New Zealand. He is currently a member of its Executive Committee

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