Laying aside their differences over the origin of rice, a staple in most Bengali dishes, which Rabindranath Tagore consumed, China and India will celebrate the bards’ 150th birth anniversary this weekend.
Tagore who visited China four times and in whose name the Crescent moon Society was formed in Shanghai has helped to link a sino-Indian past many had forgotten until his links with China were unearthed two years ago with the release of a documentary entitled ‘Gurudev‘. Composed painstakingly by Indian, Shanghai based journalist Bivash Mukherjee, the documentary chronicles the life and times of Tagore in China, the people he inspired, the thoughts he provoked and new wave of Asian renaissance he brought in.
To celebrate the event, the Indian Embassy in Beijing and the Chinese Consulate in Kolkata, home to the largest Chinese population in India and also home to Tagore, held separate events to pay their respect to the bard, show their appreciation for the wealth of knowledge he left behind and celebrate another event for the Year of China-India Exchange.
In Kolkata, Professor Liu Yuening the popular Chinese music composer and Yangqin player from Beijing performed a fusion concert in the city along with Pandit Tarun Bhattacharya (santoor), Prateek Chaudhuri (sitar), Arif Khan (tabla) a and young yanquin performer Du Yu. Three Tagore songs, sung by Indian and Chinese singers, rounded off the concert. In addition,
Zhang Li Zhong, the new consul-general of China in Calcutta, has also been preparing the China Hall in Tagore House for an August opening.
“We have known Tagore from our school days and read his poetry avidly in textbooks. We have a natural admiration and respect for him. I consider myself fortunate to come to the city of culture and joy, where he was born. Tagore was a friend of the Chinese people. He had sympathy for Chinese hardships in the 1930s and ’40s. Our concert, Night of the Orient: When East Meets East, should revitalise the friendship between our two countries,” Zhang Li Zhong, the Chinese consul-general in Kolkata, told the Telegraph.
Meanwhile in Beijing, the Indian Embassy paid their respects the Tan Cheung, the greatest proponent of Tagore and whose father was highly instrumental in setting up Shantiniketan in Kolkata. Besides a dinner that catered to local Chinese that were interested in developing ties with India, Beijing’s political elite will also gather to pay their respects to Tagore on saturday, the day of his birth anniversary. For many educated Chinese, Rabindranath Tagore’s translated writing is the first glimpse of India. They discuss the Nobel laureate’s 1924 tour in the world of Chinese intellectuals as a landmark.