Honoring of Indian Poet Brings Diversity to Campus

The University celebrated One Hundred Years of an Offering in Songs, the hundredth anniversary of renowned Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore’s Nobel Prize on Oct. 14 in Wilson Hall Auditorium. Students and faculty came together to participate in a series of readings of Tagore’s work and listened to famous musician Prauddha Raha from Calcutta, India.

Courtney Woodward, junior political science major, and Ahmed Alzarahani, an international computer science graduate student, introduced the speakers of the evening. They also provided background of the poet, his life and the significance of the readings.

Tagore is known today as a “humanist, internationalist, and universalist,” as stated by the event program. He was an advocate for human rights in India, protesting the British rule through his poetry, art, and music. Tagore represents the voice of a nation and plays a very important part of India’s independence and culture.

The poems read during the event were from Tagore’s collection Gitanjali. The poems were read in a variety of languages by faculty and students. The readers included Ebthihal Al-Alwi, a public policy international graduate student who read a poem in Arabic with Dr. Saliba Sarsar (professor). Khaled Alyami, a public policy international graduate student read a poem in Turkish. Sophie Beadry a first year political science major read in French with Gregory Bordelon (professor). Anqi Tan, accountant student read a poem in Mandarin. Soham Chatterjee, Jaya Patten, and Michael Thomas (professor) each read a passage in English. Heide Estes (professor) read a poem in German. Priscilla GacArtigas (professor) and George Gonzalez (professor) both read about passages in Spanish. Mihaela Moscalius (professor) read a passage in Russian. Finally, Marina Vujnovic (professor) read a poem in Croatian.

Gregory Bordelon, lecturer of political science said,”tonight was very moving there was a sense of unity in Tagore’s work. I think it is nice to kind of slow down and appreciate the aesthetic process that happens, so honoring him was very important to bring us into perspective as we enter into midterms.”

A choir made up of guests and professors, such as Kevin Dooley (professor), Nancy Mezey (professor), Joseph Patten (professor), and Taylor Claude (professor) accompanied Raha’s music and the readings throughout the night.

Along with the songs performed by the choir authentic Indian dancing was performed by Apruva Bhalerao, Dr. Jayati Bhattacharyya, Apruva Chanda, Esha Choudhary, Mounica Neravetla, and Ruhika Sen.

Heide Estes, English professor said, “I was completely overwhelmed when they were doing the dancing and the singing together and I was completely impressed with the bringing of so many cultures together and so many students here as well.”

Dylan Maynard, senior history major said, “Well I thought it was a very beautiful event tonight. It brought a variety of cultures together very beautifully. I would like to thank Dr. Datta and Dr. Brown for bringing it to us tonight.”

President Dr. Paul Brown said the evening was inspirational and mesmerizing. “I could have stayed for another couple hours. I found it soothing, I found it representative of what our culture is all about here…,” added Brown.

Samuel Maynard, senior political science major said, “I think it’s important to have more events like this, especially for students who want to emerge themselves into different cultures.”

Maynard continued, “When you are being educated it is one of the most important things you can do, rather than sit in a class room keeping up with just your academics.”

Rekha Datta, political science professor, explained it was a night of a global celebration of Tagore’s poetry and music.

Dr. Joseph Patten, Chair of the Political Science Department said, “Well first off I would like to thank Dr. Rekha Datta there are very few people who could bring this kind of event together, not to mention people from all over the world. She creates some very magical memories, and tonight was certainly one of them.”

PHOTO COURTESY of Jessica Roberts