From Youssra El-Sharkawy (Photo: PTI5_13_2017_000117B) Cairo, May 13 (PTI) A cultural festival to mark the 156th birth anniversary of the famous Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore has concluded in Egypt with a dazzling performance from Indian dancers.

The four-day Tagore Festival organised by the Maulana Azad Centre for Indian Culture (MACIC), the cultural wing of the Indian Embassy in Cairo, concluded yesterday with dancers performing on ‘Rituranga Play of Seasons – at Al-Hanager Theatre at the Cairo Opera House.

“Rituranga production is very close to my heart and it was a great opportunity to share a little bit of Tagore with Egyptian friends,” said Ranu Bhattacharyya, spouse of India’s Ambassador to Egypt Sanjay Bhattacharyya, who performed with the group.

“When performing on stage, I felt overwhelmed and loved.

I felt that there is no distance. The performance took a lot of preparations of dances, songs and scenes. We worked very hard during the past months,” she told PTI.

“Rituranga” presented song-poems from nature, celebrating the six seasons in Bengal. Tagore believed each season offered new joys and new festivities to be celebrated and appreciated.

The event was attended by a number of diplomats and ambassadors including ambassadors of China, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, besides Egyptian politicians and public figures.

Ambassador Bhattacharyya said he always wanted to engage the Indian community through cultural festivals.

“Most of members were not trained before so it was a very good experience that extended beyond the community to bring new experience and joy to our Egyptian friends,” he said.

He said Tagore was celebrated in Shantiniketan, Bengal and Bangladesh and wherever Bengalis reside, including Cairo, through his music and dance.

“Tagore is very well known in Egypt as a writer and poet but this year we wanted to present him as an artist and make people discover and explore his great sense of joy and connection to spiritual and nature around him. He is not gone.

He is still there and that is the greatness of Tagore,” he said.

Born on May 7, 1861, 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 and 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 civilisation 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.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.