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Suu Kyi attends Tagore’s 150th anniversary celebration at Indian embassy

Rangoon (Mizzima) – Aung San Suu Kyi made a special visit to the Indian embassy in Rangoon on Monday evening for the 150th anniversary celebration of Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore. Tagore won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1913.

This marks the first ever visit to the Indan embassy by Suu Kyi, who attended high school and graduated from college in India.
The New Delhi-based National Coalition Government of Burma (NCGUB) exile government minister Dr. Tint Swe said, “The visit by a key leader of the Burmese democracy movement to a major function of India is really significant. I assume this will help in enhancing long-term bilateral relationship between the two countries.”

Inviting Suu Kyi to the function would reflect well on the Indian government’s “Look East” policy that has been criticized by the international community, he said.

“We can say this is a significant step in bilateral relations,” he said.

Diplomats from other foreign missions have often attended functions held at the NLD party headquarters in Rangoon, but the Indian embassy never sent its diplomats to the functions, NLD party spokesman Ohn Kyaing said.

Indian Foreign Ministry Secretary Ms. Nirupama Rao met Aung San Suu Kyi for about an hour while the Indian foreign minister visited Burma in June. Both sides said that they wished to make relationship between two countries frank and friendly.

The Indian embassy in Burma has organized various events to honour Tagore including a symposium on his philosophy and art at Rangoon University and an Arts Camp at the embassy.

Suu Kyi has deep relations with India. She graduated from Lady Shri Ram College in 1964. She received the Jawalhala Nehru International Understanding Prize in 1993, the Rajiv Gandhi prize in 1996, the Outstanding Student of Delhi University in 1997 and the Subbhas Chandra Bose Prize in 2007.

In a video message sent during her 66th birthday celebrations on June 19, she said that she wished to see India stand in accord with her status as the largest democracy in the world.

Tagore and Burma

Tagore visited Burma three times during the colonial period. He visited Shwedagon Pagoda on May 5, 1916, and Indians in Rangoon celebrated his birthday on May 8 that year at Jubilee Hall in Rangoon. He attended the “Bengali Literature Conference” held in Rangoon on March 24, 1924, and stayed in Rangoon for four days. An inscription engraved in both Burmese and English marks his visit to a building at No. 392-396 Merchant Street, Rangoon, on the east wall of “Guardian Magazine.” He also visited Burma from October 22-24, 1927, for the Dewali Festival.

During his first visit, he noted that Indians were a majority and Burmese were a minority in Rangoon. He wrote, “Burma did not look like Burma when I reached there. Rangoon just exists on a map and it’s as if it didn’t really exist on the ground. In other words, the city does not look like a tree growing from the ground, it looks like a bubble drifting in the water.”

Admirers of Tagore’s literature established the “Burma- Tagore Association” in 1952. Burmese writer Paragu translated at least five books by Tagore. Many of his poems and stories were translated by other writers including Maung Phyu, Zaw Gyi, Min Thu Wun, Mya Than Tint, Myint Soe Hlaing and Hein Latt.

The well-known works of Tagore in Burmese are Gitanjali, Gardener, Stray Birds, and Picking Fruits and Sitra.

Gitanjali (Verse No. 35):

“Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way in the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action;
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.”

The first Asian to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), wrote more than 3,000 poems and songs. He wrote many plays, a ballet, an opera, stage plays, shadow plays and other works He also wrote many short stories, novellas, essays and articles in both his mother tongue Bengali and English. He was also a musician who wrote many songs, and he created more than 400 paintings and exhibited them in France, England, Germany and Russia. He established the “Santiniketan” school and worked to improve education standards.
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 06 September 2011 12:27 )  

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