India, Bangladesh announce joint Tagore celebrations

New Delhi, April 7 (IANS) India and Bangladesh Thursday announced a bouquet of programmes, including creation of a special tourist circuit, two joint movie productions and exhibition of paintings to celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore.

The official 150th Tagore anniversary celebrations will open in Dhaka May 6 and in the Indian capital May 7.

The three-day opening ceremony May 6-8 in Dhaka will feature performing artistes from India and will be attended by a top level Indian government representative.

The gesture will be reciprocated by Bangladesh at the three-day opening ceremony in New Delhi May 7, which will be graced by a VVIP and performers from Bangladesh. This was announced by the culture secretaries of India and Bangladesh, Jawhar Sircar and Suraiya Begum respectively, at a joint press conference in the capital.

The joint programmes between the two countries between May 2011 and May 2012 will showcase performing arts, movies, exhibitions of original prints and paintings of Tagore, seminars, conferences, scholars' retreats and a special tourism drive to attract visitors to the places associated with the life of the poet.

'Rabi Tirtha' - the Tagore tourism package will include a guided tour of five important sites connected with the poet in India and Bangladesh.

The places include Jorasanko, the birth place of Tagore in Kolkata, Santiniketan - Tagore's education and arts hub in West Bengal's Birbhum district, and Silaidoh, Potishar and Shahazadpur in Bangladesh along the Padma river, where Tagore's erstwhile family estates were located. The sites in Bangladesh have been converted to Tagore heritage zones, Jawhar Sircar said.

The India and Bangladesh governments are working with the local tour operators to chalk out the itinerary.

A highlight of the celebration package will be a special exhibition of paintings on Tagore and his works by 150 Bangladeshi artists commissioned by the Bangladesh government and 46 original paintings of Tagore from India.

India will also lend technical expertise to restore the Tagore heritage sites in Bangladesh and collaborate on building of archives. The two countries are working on two feature films of Tagore and a host of documentaries.

A special package of documentaries on Tagore, including a restored edition of 'Rabindranath Tagore', the 1961 documentary of the poet made by maestro Satyajit Ray, will be unveiled by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the opening ceremony in the national capital May 7.

The two countries will also host a joint overseas programme at Unesco headquarters in Paris.

The culture secretaries' talks focused on two areas - one on revisiting the cultural agreement between the two countries signed in Dhaka in 1972 on a wide range of subjects, and the second 'was specific to the 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore jointly by both the countries'.

'From this meeting onwards, we can take similar initiatives to renew and revisit the 1972 agreement,' Suraiya Begum said. She echoed Indian Culture Minister Kumari Selja who earlier in the day said, 'The meeting would lead to further cooperation'.

The culture secretary of Bangladesh is leading a seven-member delegation to India for two days to revisit and review the 1972 agreement, identify new areas of cultural cooperation and formulate the Tagore anniversary celebration package.

Rabindranath Tagore, who was born in Jorasanko in north Kolkata in 1861, 'spent 10 years of his life between 30 to 40 at his family estate in Silaidoh in Rajshahi district in Bengladesh', Sircar said, adding that the poet contributed to 'rural reconstruction, banking, fostering unity between two major religions'.

'Tagore even experimented with education in Bangladesh that would be mobilised in much larger scale in Santiniketan,' Sircar said.

India had Bangladesh had signed a cultural exchange programme on Jan 11, 2010, in the capital in the presence of the prime inisters of the two countries, Manmohan Singh and Sheikh Hasina.

In a joint communique issued after the visit, one of the significant agreement was to jointly celebrate the birth anniversary of Tagore.