Kolkata: West Bengal saluted Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore Sunday with offerings of songs, dances and plays composed by the bard as lakhs of people participated in functions across the state to launch his 150th birth anniversary celebrations.
Since dawn, people from all walks of life queued up at Jorasanko Thakurbari - the poet`s ancestral home in north Kolkata - to pay homage to the Nobel laureate, whose popular appeal has largely been undiminished even 69 years after his death.
Tagore`s admirers visited the room where he was born in 1861 and watched the cultural programme organised in the courtyard of the palatial building which now houses the Rabindra Bharati Museum.
"Every year during Rabindra Jayanti (birth anniversary of Rabindranath) I come to Jorasanko with my family and friends to have a feel of his achievements and lifestyle," said Saibal Roy, a visitor.
The museum, a part of the Rabindra Bharati University, drew a large crowd.
The state government held its main programme of tribute at Rabindra Sadan - a cultural complex named after the poet - where singers, dancers and elocutionists captivated the audience with their rendition of Tagore`s compositions.
The Committee for Celebrating Tagore`s 150th birth anniversary organised prabhat pheris (morning choirs) with school children and adults hitting the roads at day break with Tagore`s songs on their lips.
The Kolkata Municipal Corporation, various cultural and drama troupes, schools, colleges and universities organised colourful programmes to remember Tagore, whose rich, diverse and vast literary ouvre is virtually unmatched in the world.
In the evening, the Rabindra memorial award was given to writer Manindra Gupta.
Swabhumi, a heritage park in the city, hosted Rabir Alloyee - a cultural homage to Tagore performed by folk artists.
The birth anniversary functions, which normally continue for a fortnight in Kolkata and the districts, would stretch to a year this time in view of Tagore`s 150th birth anniversary next year.
Rabindra Bharati University, founded in 1961 to mark Tagore`s centenary, has already launched a Rs.15 crore project to renovate Tagore`s ancestral home, and would publish annotated compilations of Tagore`s write-ups on education, aesthetics and rural reconstruction.
Jadavpur University has decided to build a cultural institute to archive Tagore`s works, besides constructing a state-of-the-art amphitheatre for performing arts.