Rabindranath Tagore’s Birthday Celebrated At New York Consulate

Various performances were part of Tagore Birth Anniversary celebration at the Indian Consulate in New York. PHOTOS : Courtesy Consulate General of India, NY

The great Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore’s birthday was celebrated in many parts of India and other countries recently. In New York, a special celebration was held at the Consulate General of India May 18, co-organized by the Tagore  Society of New York. The celebration included musical and dance performances and readings of Tagore’s poems. The highlight of the event was the keynote address by Professor Elizabeth Redwine on Tagore’s works.

India’s Consul General in New York BInaya Srikant Pradhan, center, with guests at the Indian Consulate; Tagore’s poems set to Rabindra Sangeet by him were presented by groups of singers at Tagore’s Birth Anniversary celebration at the Indian Consulate in New York.

One hundred and sixty three years have passed since his birth on May 7, 1861, and Tagore is still remembered for the immense contribution to India’s spiritual, artistic and political thought. Tagore has been unforgettable. For most, he is the writer of free India’s national anthem ‘Jan Gan Man Adhinayak Jay He Bharat Bhagya Vidhata’.

Tagore is the first Indian poet to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913 for his collection of prose poems, ‘Gitanjali’ which was introduced to the West by English poet William Butler Yeats. Tagore is a mystic poet, evoking spiritual and philosophical musings in the readers even today.

Tagore’s Birth Anniversary celebration at the Indian Consulate in New York.
Photo : Courtesy Consulate General of India, NY

He was a great social reformist and influencer, and an education innovator. The Shantiniketan University established by him even today offers well rounded education set in the midst of natural surroundings. Tagore’s gifts also include ‘Rabindra Sangeet’, a musical tradition created by him, based on Indian classical and folk music, to which he tuned his own song poems. His paintaings are part of the great legacy he has left India.

Tagore’s poetry, his dramas, and fiction are valuable literary works. His last short novel, and perhaps his best, ‘Shesher Kobita’ (The Unfinished Poem) contains a number of his unpublished poems and Tagore’s ideas and philosophy of life and love.

So great has been his influence that Indian poets in different languages have copied Tagore’s poems and incorporated a lot of his lines and thoughts into their poems without giving him credit. Indian films have copied a lot of Tagore’s stories, and have adopted portions from them without ever acknowledging his influence.

Celebrations of his birthday every year, have been bringing awareness of his great works of art and his philosophy. What the protagonist Amruta tells Mircea in Maitreyi Devi’s ‘Na Hanyate’ about Tagore, “He is our Sun and he is our Moon. We see everything in his light,” has been true of Bengal who has proudly loved Tagore.

Read one of his ‘Gitanjali’ poems for a taste of his mystical thought and his essential philosophy in simple words.

From ‘Gitanjali’

Life of my life, I shall ever try

to keep my body pure, knowing

that thy living touch is upon all my limbs.

I shall ever try to keep all untruths

out from my thoughts, knowing

that thou art that truth which has kindled

the light of reason in my mind.

I shall ever try to drive all evils

away from my heart and keep

my love in flower, knowing

that thou hast thy seat in

the inmost shrine of my heart.

And it shall be my endeavor to

reveal thee in my actions, knowing

it is thy power gives me strength to act.



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