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Nazrul’s 123rd birth anniv today

He is yet to be declared ‘national poet’ officially

Published : 24 May 2022 09:48 PM | Updated : 25 May 2022 02:39 PM

The 123rd birth anniversary of National Poet of Bangladesh Kazi Nazrul Islam is being observed in Bangladesh, India and other parts of the world amid various programmes.

The birthday of the great poet of Bengali literature is today. The government, different socio-cultural organisations and educational institutions have chalked out various programmes to mark the day. 

Various organisations and individuals will place floral wreaths at the grave of the ‘National Poet’ on the ground of Dhaka University’s central mosque. KM Khalid, state minister for cultural affairs, will place a wreath there in the morning.

Nazrul Charcha Kendra will organise a cultural programme and discussion at the IEDB Building in Kakrail in Dhaka at 5:00pm.

Indira Gandhi Cultural Centre will organize a solo music show of Nazrul singer Khairul Anam Shakil titled Nazrul Sangeet Sandhya at the National Art Gallery of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy at 6:30pm.

The main programme will be organized on the Bir Chandra Public Library and Nagar Auditorium (town hall) premises in Cumilla with the theme "Bidrohir Shotoborsha", where the poet had a lot of memories and which is the home town of his wife Pramila Devi as well.

Meanwhile, a three-day celebration programme on the birth anniversary of ‘National Poet’ began at Jatiya Kabi Kazi Nazrul Islam University (JKKNIU) at Trishal in Mymensingh on Tuesday (May 24). The programme includes discussion meetings, seminars, award-giving ceremonies, photography exhibitions and cultural events.

However, the nation still waits for the recognition of Poet Kazi Nazrul Islam to be officially declared the ‘National Poet’ of Bangladesh. No government ever issued any gazette notification in this regard. 

Some say that no official recognition is necessary for Nazrul. He is the national poet of Bangladesh without recognition in papers. Some of them say that he doesn’t need direct recognition because he is more than a national poet. 

However, Nazrul Sangeet singers, Nazrul researchers, literary personalities, cultural activists and many others said that the official recognition is necessary as the next generation will forget Nazrul if he is not officially recognized as the National Poet. They called upon the government to initiative in this regard. 

“Although official recognition is not inevitable for Nazrul as a national poet, it is our responsibility to do so. The state should take initiative to enhance its status by officially recognizing him as the national poet,” said Rashedul Anam, a Nazrul researcher and also director of the Institute of Nazrul Studies at JKKNIU.

However, Kazi Nazrul Islam has been mentioned as the national poet in various contexts in many government documents and events. A university was established in Mymensingh and the university law was enacted mentioning him as the national poet. It is informal recognition from the state. Nazrul should be given formal recognition.

Mohammad Zakir Hossain, executive director of Kobi Nazrul Institute and a researcher on Nazrul, told the Bangladesh Post on Tuesday that Nazrul should be recognized as a ‘National Poet’ officially through the issuance of separate government notification or passage of the law in the Parliament.

“Nazrul is written as ‘National Poet’ in two laws related to Jatiya Kabi Kazi Nazrul Islam University (JKKNIU) set up at Trishal in Mymensingh and Kobi Nazrul Institute in Dhaka. So, he is legally our national poet although a gazette notification has not been issued in this regard till now. However, a separate gazette notification declaring Nazrul as the National Poet would be better,” he said. 

It was known that the Cultural Affairs Ministry considered the matter, but has not taken any effective move till now even though it has been 50 years since Kazi Nazrul Islam was brought to independent Bangladesh permanently. The poet along with his family was brought to Dhaka on May 24 in 1972. 

Kobi Nazrul Institute, however, has taken initiative in this regard. It sent a letter to the ministry regarding the recognition of Nazrul as a national poet. But their initiative has not yet seen the light of day. “We wrote to the Cultural Affairs Ministry. We hope that the ministry will take initiative in this regard,” said Mohammad Zakir Hossain. 

However, no comment was received from the ministry. This correspondent tried to reach some officials of the ministry, but they advised this correspondent to contact the executive director of Kobi Nazrul Institute.

When it was said that the executive director had written to the ministry on the issue, the ministry officials did not make any comment. At this point, they again suggested talking to Zakir Hossain.

AJM Abdullahel Baki, a joint secretary of the ministry, said that no official gazette has been issued declaring Kazi Nazrul Islam as the ‘National Poet’ of Bangladesh. “The poet is always cited as ‘National Poet’ in speeches of presidents and prime ministers on Nazrul’s birth anniversaries and other national days,” he said.  

Kazi Nazrul Islam was born on 11 Jaistha of the Bangla calendar in 1306 (May 24 in 1899) at Churulia village in Asansol under Burdwan district of West Bengal in India. After the poet was brought to Bangladesh, he was given a house in Dhanmondi. It is called ‘Kabi Bhaban’.

In recognition of his contribution to Bangla literature, Dhaka University awarded him the honorary doctoral degree ‘D’Litt’ at a special convocation on December 9 in 1974. In 1976, the government granted him citizenship in Bangladesh and on February 21 awarded him the ‘Ekushey Padak’. On August 29 in 1976, the ‘National Poet’ died and he was buried with full state honour beside the Dhaka University Central Mosque.

Although Nazrul received a lot of respect from the state and people of Bangladesh in the last years of his life, he was not officially recognised as the National Poet by the state.

Rashedul Anam of the Institute of Nazrul Studies at JKKNIU told Bangladesh Post that it is unfortunate that Nazrul has not been officially recognized as National Poet till now. 

“Anyone can say that official recognition is not necessary, but it is our failure that we could not make an official declaration till now even after 51 years of independence and 50 years of Nazrul’s coming to Bangladesh,” he said.

Many others echoed the same concern as Rashedul Anam. They said it was the responsibility of the government to issue a notification to Nazrul with the status of the national poet. This recognition should be given even after passing the law in Parliament.

There are gazette notifications of 12-14 matters that have been dubbed ‘National’, including flowers, trees and birds. “If all those gazettes could be issued for each of them, then why the delay on the ‘National Poet’? The government has a set of rules and regulations on how something gets ‘National’ recognition,” said a follower of Nazrul. 

According to Banglapedia, Kazi Nazrul Islam was accorded a reception at Albert Hall in Kolkata on December 10 in 1929. Acharya Prafulla Chandra Ray had presided over the function, while the felicitation was read by S Wazed Ali. 

Subhas Chandra also spoke at the function. Some others said that the reception was held on December 15 in 1929 where Sher-e-Bangla Fazlul Haque was also present and Kazi Nazrul Islam was declared ‘National Poet’. After the historic announcement on the day, Nazrul became the national poet verbally. 

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