Book releases, exhibition of the original text of Rabindranath Tagore’s nomination for the Nobel prize, panel discussions and workshops marked the two—day celebrations organised by the Swedish embassy in Kolkata on 25th and 26th of October to commemorate the centenary of the award won by the bard.
The programmes flag-off the beginning of the seventh edition of the Sweden India Nobel Memorial Week 2013.
A book “Tagore in Sweden — 1921 & 1926”, penned by Swedish scholar Olavi Hemmila — that captures Tagore’s two visits to Sweden — was released on the occasion.
Sweden India Nobel Memorial Week 2013
The Sweden India Nobel Memorial Week is a high-profile, multi-city, multi-activity annual event organized by the Swedish embassy in cooperation with leading Swedish businesses in India. The week is instituted in memory of Swedish innovator, entrepreneur & philanthropist Alfred Nobel and celebrates the Indian Nobel Laureates as well.
The seventh edition of The Sweden—India Nobel Memorial Week pays a tribute to Tagore, the first Indian to win the prestigious prize and non—European to win a Nobel Prize in Literature, on the 100th year anniversary of his winning the prize.
Nobel Memorial Wall
The embassy has also procured the original text of the nomination for Tagore’s Nobel Prize from the Swedish Academy and the same will be on display in Kolkata.
Swedish Ambassador to India Harald Sandberg inaugurated the Nobel Memorial Wall — which commemorates the Indian Nobel Laureates —at the Esplanade Metro Station.The wall will be a permanent structure at the station. Two other temporary walls will be fabricated at Gitanjali and Shyam Bazaar metro stations for a week. In addition, there will be track side branding at Rabindra Sarobar station.
While “Gitanjali” is the name of Tagore’s nobel winning book of poems, Shyam Bazaar is close to his ancestral home at Joasanko where he was born.
The Metro is proud to have the Nobel Memorial Wall where photographs of all Nobel Laureates from India and founder Alfred Nobel, along with details, have been displayed," the General Manager of Kolkata Metro Radhey Shyam said.
“Tagore, now!” A panel discussion moderated by Tagore expert Radha Chakravarty centered around the relevance of the timeless poet, writer, and philosopher; the programme was held at the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR).
The panelists included filmmaker Gautam Benegal, Hemmila and academics Sanjukta Das and Anand Lal.
Tobias Degsell, a curator and educationist from the Nobel Museum, conducted Spark of Creativity workshops at the ICCR for young business professional and talked to them about the ways to be more creative, come up with new ideas and how to become better problem solvers.
A photo exhibition ‘Sweden through Indian Eyes’ Impressions of Sweden — captured by Kolkata boy Abhijit Chakrabarty was also be held at the ICCR. That apart, cultural programmes marked the celebrations too. A Swedish band performed with students from Kolkata and enthralled an audience at Star Theatre with some magical melodies composed by the bard.
Tagore visited Stockholm in May, 1921 to deliver an acceptance speech to the Swedish Academy where he invited the members of the Academy to visit Santiniketan, where he was setting up Visva-Bharati.
“Help us to make this university a common institution for the East and the West. May they give the contribution of their lives and may we all together make it living and representative of the undivided humanity of the world,” said Tagore.
Speaking to an English daily, the Swedish Ambassador commented, “the Embassy of Sweden is delighted to celebrate the centenary of Rabindranath Tagore's Nobel Prize. It remains an exceptional milestone in the history of Indo-Swedish relations. Awarded at a time when the exposure to India was restricted but to a handful of Swedes, it stands testimony to the vision of the Swedish Academy to acknowledge the works of India's poet par excellence.”
He added that Tagore’s books “were translated into Swedish and for several decades thereafter Tagore was a famous name in Sweden, a country he visited twice, in 1921 and 1926. Interestingly enough, the first book that was translated into Swedish was The Gardener (love poems) and the Crescent Moon (prose poems) and not Gitanjali. In recent years, a renewed interest in Rabindranath Tagore and his literary work has grown in Sweden, fuelled by new congenial translations of his poetry and songs from Bengali into English and Swedish.”
Plans in the pipeline
The next leg of the ongoing celebrations will be held in Delhi in the first week of November.
The Foundation has also invited the Indian foreign minister Salman Khurshid to attend its awards ceremony at Stockholm on Dec 10 in an unprecedented tribute to Tagore. The Foundation in its 113 years of administrating the prestigious prize has never invited individual governments or their ministers to the award ceremony the way it extended the invitation to India.
Tagore was the first non-European to win the Literature Nobel and a first Asian to be honoured with the prize which is why the centenary of his victory was picked for the rarest celebration. The poet was declared the awardee-designate on Nov 13, 1913 and was officially conferred with the prize on Dec 10 that year.
“The Swedish government has endorsed this decision by the Nobel Foundation and we look forward to hosting foreign minister Khurshid in Stockholm this December,” Dag Sjoogren, the first secretary (political) at the Swedish embassy here, told the newspaper. “We are also hoping for a bilateral meeting on the sidelines.”
The world has so much more to learn from the ever-inspiring Tagore. It is sad not much of his works have been translated for the world to know him. Time has now come for a Tagore renaissance. An icon for Bengal, Tagore cannot be forced into a particular identity or period. He is timeless.