Rabindra Jayanti is the most widely observed cultural festival celebrated in remembrance of the Bengali polymath Rabindranath Tagore’s birth anniversary. This day is marked by Bengal’s pride and nostalgia. From reading Sahaj Path to Ghare Baire we all grew up with a perpetual love for Gurudev. And our pride lies in the diversity of Tagore’s oeuvre which made him the first Asian Nobel laureate.
But if we delve into the contemporary celebration of Rabindra Jayanti it can be perceived as a mere custom these days. The students who partake in the commemoration of Tagore are bound by the rules of their institutions. If given the choice they would choose to binge watch a Netflix show on this day. It is harrowing that they fail to realize that Tagore is the harbinger of modernism. For example Tagore’s depiction of women through characters like Charulata in Nashtanirh , Binodini in Chokher Bali highlights the modern idea of feminism in the early 20Th century.
In this post modern ephemeral world there is very little space for emotion thus making the celebration of Rabindra Jayanti another attempt to restore the dying culture of Bengal. There are a handful of people who genuinely look forward to Rabindra Jayanti because of its seraphic celebration. The celebration nowadays is more about the ethnic attires and the soirees.
The baithaliks (prayer song), recitals and enactments of scenes from his novels are still witnessed in Rabindra Sadan and Jorasanko Thakurbari. Albeit the jamborees are the current mode of Rabindra Jayanti celebration where amidst the sound of clinking glasses comes a crooning of an enervated person tired of its Sisyphean lifestyle..
“দিনগুলি মোর সোনার খাঁচায় রইল না–
সেই যে আমার নানা রঙের দিনগুলি।”
So here, on this Rabindra Jayanti let’s retrospect. When was the last time you looked forward to Rabindra Jayanti because of its beatific celebration? Don’t you think Rabindra Jayanti has become the much needed holiday amidst the sweltering heat of Kolkata, thus losing its idiosyncrasy inchmeal in our contemporary society?
Text by Sohini Mandal