Kolkata: Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore`s 70th death anniversary was observed across West Bengal Monday with rallies and rendition of his songs, poems and dance as Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee joined in a major way in the tributes.
The year also marks the 150th birth anniversary of the versatile genius who holds the distinction of having his compositions as the national anthems of two countries, India and Bangladesh.
Despite inclement weather, four colourful and large rallies were brought out in the eastern metropolis to culminate at the city hub Metro Channel.
Banerjee started the rally from Harish Park in south Kolkata and marched the four km distance alongside hundreds of school children and commoners.
The chief minister dissuaded her security men from throwing a security ring around her as she mingled with the school children, braving a steady drizzle. She kept on humming Rabindra Sangeet and encouraged others too to join in as the crowd swelled by the minute.
Banerjee and her army of school kids marched on with the chief minister at times waving and folding hands to greet the crowds while at other times managing the rally.
The three other rallies were taken out from `Jorasanko Thakurbari` - Tagore`s ancestral residence - College square and Park Circus.
People from all walks of life, including actors and Trinamool Congress leaders like Debasree Roy and Tapas Paul, and playright-cum Education Minister Bratya Basu and state Finance Minister Amit Mitra, also participated.
At the Metro Channel, Banerjee Roy, Paul and Basu sang `Aaguner Poroshmoni` and `Baandh Bhengey Dao` - two of the hundreds of magical creations of the poet.
Banerjee, who donned the mantle of an anchor, pressed her party colleagues to sing one Rabindra Sangeet after one. Handing the microphone to Sudip Bandopadhyay she said: "Nothing is hidden from me, I know you are a good singer. Now sing a song for us." She literally compelled the minister to sing.
She also kept on asking the children which song they should sing and kept humming these as others too joined her in the celebrations.
She also announced a holiday for the school children who were part of the rally.
Host of programmes were held across the state, including Tagore`s ancestral house at Jorasanko and Sanitiniketan in Birbhum district, where he created the knowledge town of his dreams.
At Santiniketan, where Tagore founded the Viswa Bharati University in 1921, morning choir was organised followed by daylong programmes attended by the teachers, employees, youths, and children. Trinamool Congress lawmaker from the area Shatabdi Roy recited the bard`s poem to pay homage.
At Jorasanko, Rabindra Sangeet and recital of Tagore`s poems were organised to mark the occasion.
Banerjee has announced a three-day long ceremony to celebrate Tagore`s 150th birth anniversary this year.
Cultural programmes would be held in all schools, colleges, other educational institutions, government offices, state public sector undertakings and city police headquarters with the main programme organised at Netaji Indoor Stadium.
The state government has organised a cultural festival at Netaji Indoor Stadium here where leading singers and elocutionists will take part.
All government buildings, railway offices and stations across the state are to be lit up on the occasion.
She said the state government was also renovating a house in Mongpu village in Darjeeling district which hosted Tagore on several occasions.
"We have plans to set up a Nepali Academy there."
Kolkata Mayor Sovon Chatterjee announced setting up of 220 bus stands adorned with Tagore`s writings and pictures across the city. The bus stands would come up at a cost of Rs.4 crore, said Chatterjee. Programmes were held in all the districts of the state to pay homage to the writer, the first Nobel laureate from Asia.