Kolkata: Noble laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore, who has composed the national anthems of both India and Bangladesh, is the life force for people on both sides of the border, Bangladesh Minister of State for Cultural Affairs Promod Mankin said here Monday.
Speaking at a India-Bangladesh joint commemoration programme of the bard`s 150th birth anniversary, Mankin recalled the deep-rooted ties between the two countries.
"There are many Indian writers, artists, a (former) chief minister (Jyoti Basu) and leaders, whose ancestral homes are in Bangladesh. Rabindranath himself had his ancestral homes in Bangladesh and his family were the zamindars (land owners) in parts of Bangladesh," he said.
Calling Tagore the "life force" of West Bengal and Bangladesh, he said his compositions, stories, novels, dramas and songs have given a fulfilling experience to people on both sides of the border.
"It is meaningless to argue to which country Rabindranath belonged. He belonged to all of us. He belonged to the whole world," Mankin said.
"He is the cementing force in strengthening ties between India and Bangladesh. He is a soul mate of every Bengali residing on either side of the border. We can never forget the help and contributions of India during the 1971 Bangladesh liberation war," said Mankin.
The Bangladesh minister said his country has put its best foot forward to honour and show respect to Tagore on the occasion.
"It is historic that these two countries have come together to celebrate Tagore`s birthday. The people of Bangladesh are happy. Currently a grand festival is going on in Bangladesh," he told reporters on the sidelines of the programme.
West Bengal Governor M.K. Narayanan said Tagore not only enriched India`s art and literature but also helped in the intellectual and spiritual reawakening of the country during the dark days of the bondage under foreign rule.
"He fired the nation`s imagination in respect of nationalism. Gurudev was seen as the conscience of the nation when the country was trying to break the shackles of bondage," said Narayanan.
Eminent artistes of different genres from both countries, including Soumitra Chatterjee, Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay, Mohan Singh, Rezwana Chowdhury Banya and Fahim Hossain Chowdhury and Pallabi Dance centre from Bangladesh participated in the programme.