Jibanananda’s birth anniv celebrated in Barishal

Cultural Correspondent

Three-day Jibanananda Festival marking the 120th birth anniversary of poet Jibanananda Das concluded at Brojomohun College in Barishal city on Monday.
Uttoron Sangskritik Sangathan, a Brojomohun College-based cultural-literary organisation, organised the festival.
Principal of BM College professor Shafiqur Rahman Shikdar inaugurated the festival, which is featuring 30 stalls displaying books and traditional handicraft items.
Besides, the festival is featuring cultural shows, essay and painting competition and others.
Divisional commissioner of Barishal Ram Chandra Das was present as the chief guest at the inauguration programme presided over by president of Uttaron Jubayer Hossain Shahed.
Convener of the festival sub-committee Udoy Shankar Das, Rokon Bepari and Syed Mehedi Hassan, among others, spoke at the programme.
On Sunday, a discussion was held at the festival venue where speakers spoke on life and works of Jibanananda Das.
The speakers urged the authorities to implement the Dhansiri River Eco-Park project, establish museum, memorials and sculptures of the poet. They also stressed the importance of conducting more research on Jibanananda’s life, works, ideology and influence on Bangla language and literature.
Popularly called “Rupashi Banglar Kabi” (Poet of Beautiful Bengal, Das is probably the most read poet after Rabindranath Tagore and Nazrul Islam in Bangladesh and West Bengal. While not particularly recognised initially, today Das is acknowledged as one of the greatest poets in the Bengali language.
Jibanananda Das was born on February 17 in 1899 in a Vaidya-Brahmin (Baidya) family in the southern district town of Barisal, in Bangladesh. His ancestors came from the Bikrampur region of Dhaka district, from a now-extinct village called Gaupara on the banks of the river Padma. Jibanananda’s grandfather Sarbananda Dasagupta was the first to settle permanently in Barisal. He was an early exponent of the reformist Brahmo Samaj movement in Barisal and was highly regarded in town for his philanthropy. He erased the -gupta suffix from the family name, regarding it as a symbol of Vedic Brahmin excess, thus rendering the surname to Das. Jibanananda’s father Satyananda Das (1863–1942) was a schoolmaster, essayist, magazine publisher, and founder-editor of Brôhmobadi, a journal of the Brahmo Samaj dedicated to the exploration of social issues.
Jibanananda’s mother Kusumakumari Das was a poet who wrote a famous poem called Adôrsho Chhele (“The Ideal Boy”) whose refrain is well known to Bengalis to this day: Amader deshey hobey shei chhele kobey / Kothae na boro hoye kajey boro hobey. (The child who achieves not in words but in deeds, when will this land know such a one?)
Das studied English literature at Presidency College, Kolkata and earned his MA from Calcutta University. He had a troubling career and suffered financial hardship throughout his life. He taught at many colleges but was never granted tenure. He settled in Kolkata after the partition of India. Das died on 22 October 1954, eight days after being hit by a tramcar. The witnesses said that though the tramcar whistled, he did not stop, and got struck. Some deem the accident as an attempt at suicide.
Das wrote profusely, but as he was a recluse and introvert, he did not publish most of his writings during his lifetime. During his lifetime, only seven volumes of his poems were published. After his death, it was discovered that apart from poems, Das wrote 21 novels and 108 short stories. His notable works include Ruposhi Bangla, Banalata Sen, Mahaprithibi, Shreshtha Kavita. Das’s early poems exhibit the influence of Kazi Nazrul Islam, but in the latter half of the 20th century, Das’s influence became one of the major catalysts in the making of Bengali poetry.
Das received Rabindra-Memorial Award for Banalata Sen in 1953 at All Bengal Rabindra Literature Convention. Das’s Shrestha Kavita won the Sahitya Academy Award in 1955.

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