Indians Enthrall Egyptians On Tagore’s 156th Birth Anniversary

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Cairo: Indian dancers have put up spectacular shows in Egyptian cities to mark the 156th birth anniversary of the famous Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore.

The Kolkata-based Dancers’ Guild performed for the first time in Cairo yesterday and Alexandria on Tuesday as part of the Tagore Festival which concluded yesterday.

The festival was organised by the Maulana Azad Centre for Indian Culture (MACIC), the cultural wing of the Indian Embassy in Cairo.

A dance drama based on Tagore’s work called ‘Chitrangada’ was presented at the Sayed Darwish Theatre in Alexandria and at the Arab Music Institute in Cairo.

“Chitrangada” tells the story of the warrior princess in the ancient Indian epic Mahabharata.

“This time we have decided to work on the 1892 verse. We took the main text of Chitrangada and interposed it with songs, music and dance,” Ashika Chakraborty, who did the concept and choreography of the play, said.

“The story is a little bit of magic and reality,” she added.

Before the play started Chakraborty, gave a brief introduction in English narrating the story of the plays to make it easy for Egyptians to get the story, which was mostly performed in dances and expressions and less text.

“Tagore dance, songs and theatre actually brought out a new universal language and a new universal creation, which certainly not classical, but contemporary. Although he passed away many years ago, still he is relevant,” she said, adding that dance can change the world.

Chakraborty said that she was very happy to have brought Chitrangada to the land of cleopatra.

“Once we stepped in Alexandria first and then in Cairo, we’re just overwhelmed. There is something in the air, that we will feel very bad to miss it when we go back to our country.

My language is poor that I fail to describe all the richness exquisite brilliance of the city,” she said.

Parbati Gupta, secretary and one of the founder members of the Dancers’ Guild, said that the audience were very receptive to the performance.

“I enjoyed working in Egypt. I feel it is my luck that I’m involving with this group,” she said.

Tagore received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913.

He was the first non-European to win this prestigious award, in recognition for his collection of poems, ‘Gitanjali’. His poetry, novels, plays, short stories and essays are widely read in India and across the world.

His songs have been set to music, his plays have been enacted as dance drama and his novels have been filmed. He is an integral part of India’s literary heritage and a towering figure in Bengali literature who continues to inspire creativity even in the contemporary world.

Tagore is not unknown to Egypt. He visited Egypt as a young adolescent in 1878 and later as a famous poet- philosopher in 1926, when he met King Fouad and interacted with scholars in Alexandria and Cairo. His friendship with Egyptian poet Ahmed Shawki is well known and he wrote a moving eulogy on his friend’s death in 1932.

He was impressed by the strong literary trends and found great resonance in the intellectual movement in Egypt. He also wrote about the beautiful relationship between the noble Nile River and the flourishing civilization of Egyptians.

The Tagore Festival was organised in cooperation with the Egyptian Ministry of Culture, Cairo Opera House, Cultural Production Sector, Dancers’ Guild and the Indian Community Association in Egypt.

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