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Bangladesh Bhavana a Symbol of Cultural Ties

Bangladesh Bhavana, a cultural complex with a museum narrating the history of the 1971 Liberation War, a symbol of cultural ties between India and Bangladesh, was inaugurated by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina jointly on Friday May 25, 2018 on the campus of Visva Bharati University at Santiniketan in West Bengal. The two leaders then attended the Convocation of the Visva-Bharati founded by Rabindranath Tagore. Visva-Bharati means the communion of the world with India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the Acharya, or Chancellor of this Central University.

Both the Prime Ministers spoke about the contribution of Rabindranth Tagore and how the poet is a shared cultural icon between the two countries. “He is as important to India as he is to Bangladesh,” Modi said and described the Nobel laureate as the first global citizen, whose influence knew no borders, adding that Tagore is a “shared heritage between the two countries which could not be divided by the British or even partition of the country.” Both Modi and Hasina made repeated references to the fact that the national anthem of both the countries is by Tagore.

Speaking on the occasion, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that just as the Government of Bangladesh has constructed Bangladesh Bhavana at Visva Bharati, the Government of India has taken up the task of renovating Kuthi Bari in Kustia district of Bangladesh, Modi added that:

  • Visva Bharati University and this sacred land have a history that has seen the freedom struggles of both India and Bangladesh.
  • It is a symbol of the shared heritage of the two countries.
  • Shared resolve of India and Bangladesh, against cruelty and terrorism, will continue to inspire future generations through the Bangladesh Bhavan.
  • He recalled the felicitation of Indian soldiers by Bangladesh in New Delhi last year.
  • The last few years have marked a golden period in relations between the two countries.
  • He mentioned the resolution of the land boundary issue, and various connectivity projects. 

Bangladesh Bhavana, the 44261 square feet two storey building, constructed by National Building Construction Corporation, a central government undertaking, on 119609 square feet of land donated by Visva-Bharati with Rs 35 crore fund provided by the Bangladesh government, has auditorium with a capacity to accommodate 453 persons equipped with modern sound system and a teakwood dais, a library along with a digital library with 6000 books from different publications brought from Bangladesh, a cafeteria and two seminar halls. In the interior there is a glass roof so that the centrally air-conditioned building can get direct sunlight from above. It has a museum on history and culture of Bangladesh – Bangladesh Jadughar that has been designed and decorated by graphic and interior designer Tarik Sujat and architect Ehsan Khan from Bangladesh:

  • Museum will have a wooden replica of Rabindranath Tagore’s houseboat Padma,
  • Old coins recovered from Uari Bateshwar in Bangladesh from where archaeological material dating back 2500 years was found.
  • Old coins of Sultani emperors of undivided Bengal have been kept in the museum.
  • Terracotta work, traditional handmade dolls made of earth, and several musical instruments like Ektara and Dugdugi have also been displayed.
  • Pictorial descriptions tracing the history of Bangladesh from Partition to Liberation war of Bangladesh are there.
  • Museum will also have digital displays and audio visual kiosks. Mohammad Saiful Islam who is installing the gadgets in the museum said “The digitally furnished part of the museum will help the young generation to know the history and culture of Bangladesh.”
  • It has hundreds of postal stamps released by Bangladesh government after 1971.
  • Tagore’s three memorabilia: a kerosene lamp, a bowl with cover and a salt-pot from the Tagore family’s house in Shahjadpur of Bangladesh where Tagore family was once the zamindar have been displayed in the museum.
  • Silver coins with image of Tagore issued by the Central Bank of Bangaldesh have been kept in the museum

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