Sunday, 9 May 2010

The Celebration Begins!

Rabindranath Tagore
The world-wide celebration to observe the 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore begins today. Rabindranath turned 149 today. I don't think I will be able to express in words what this day means to me. It offers me a passage to look back at the days of my childhood. Today, it will be a completely futile attempt on my part to give an account of my feelings of those days and my thoughts on Rabindranath and his vast body of work, because it will be endless. So I will keep this post short.

Bishnu De asks in a famous poem whether Rabindranath is all about the celebration that surrounds his birth and death anniversaries. All these years, after all these celebrations, it seems the same to me. On the morning of 25 Boiśākh, we turn on the television to watch the celebration taking place. We recite his poems and sing his songs with heartfelt passion.Some of us listen to Rabindrasangeet every day. Rabindranath is the reason of our cultural pride and rightfully so.

But for all our passion for Rabindrantah's works, we have strangely ignored Rabindranath himself. We love reading his poems and singing his songs, but not often do we pay attention to the thoughts and ideas expressed in the poems and songs. We have little time to look a Rabindranath's revolutionary ideas which were way ahead of his time. We have perhaps forgotten Rabindranath the thinker. It's the halo around him and his work that probably attracts us too much. We do not like to waste time to rediscover and interpret his works, because we have a notion that we know everything about Rabindranath. As I learnt from people very close to me, Rabindranath needs to be discovered everyday. He was not a man with stagnant ideas. It is fascinating to study the way he constantly changed.  His works need to be looked at. His ideas are as valid today as they were a century ago.

Rock-n-roll remix of Rabindrasangeets and some abysmal music videos are not really what I call "reinterpretation". frighteningly, Rabindranath is being abused today. Only today, I caught some astrologer on a TV channel proclaiming that – are you ready for this? – Rabindranath promoted astrology! There are soaps which integrate  out-of-context and horribly-sung Rabindrasangeets to add layers of meaning to them. Filmmakers alter our national anthem to use make their awful films something "deep" and then tell us that Rabindranath's intentions for writing it weren't very noble. Even the dates of his birth and death are tweaked conveniently. There are many more awesome gems, but in discussing them any further I will be giving them undue importance.

It is exciting for me that his works will be translated in many languages and be spread all over the world. People from other cultures will perhaps be able to do what we don't: perceive Rabindranath in a new way. Mixing of all forms of culture to form an enriched, superior form of culture was all Rabindranath wanted.

This year-long celebration, I hope, will bring us a new Rabindranath and help us get rid of the stagnancy of ideas.

So let's make this celebration a successful one! Let's rediscover Rabindranath!

Monday, 3 May 2010

Galilean Nights: Event Overview

I am so late in writing this post because of the fact that I didn't know how I should have begun writing this. And to be honest, I still don't. This post has been under development for more than six months. So I decided to do away with any sort of beginning and get straight to the point. So here's everything (well, almost) about my Galilean Nights event . . .

This programme, like the 100 Hours of Astronomy earlier in 2009, was organised by Prof. Dhiranando Roy Study & Research Centre.  In case you don't know, Galilean Nights was one of the Cornerstone Projects of the International Year of Astronomy 2009. Organised between October 22-24 2009, this programme aimed at reaching out to the people to show them the wonders of the night sky. This programme also intended to spread awareness about the great man we are remembering in IYA2009: Galileo Galilei. The main focus of Galilean Nights was on the objects Galileo observed 400 years ago and revolutionised modern science: The Sun, the Moon, Jupiter and Saturn.

I had originally planned to hold the event on all the three nights. But the pressure of my studies did not allow me to do what I'd intended to. But I had to organise it because I knew I'd die if I didn't. So I decided to hold the event for one night only. Saturday, October 24, seemed to me the best date to organise the event as more people would be able to come to the event during the weekend.