China celebrates Tagore's 149th anniversary

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New Delhi, May 15 (ANI): On Monday, China paid tribute to one of India's most revered writers, Rabindranath Tagore, by giving impassioned readings of his poems.

Star elocutionists Cao Lei and Liu Jiazhen read out Tagore's poems at the Shanghai Expo's Indian Pavilion - for an event celebrating the 149th anniversary of the Indian writer, educationist and visionary's birth.

Tagore visited China three times in the 1920s and is the most widely translated foreign author in Chinese after Shakespeare.

His first visit to China in 1924 attracted mixed reactions. New-wave poets such as Xu Zhimo (1897-1931), with whom Tagore forged a lasting bond, were moved by the music and clarity of his poetry.

"Luckily for him, Tagore was translated by some of the best Chinese poets of the time," China Daily quoted Zhao Lihong, vice-chairman of the Shanghai Writers' Association who lit the ceremonial lamp at Tagore's birthday celebrations at the Indian Pavilion with Riva Ganguly Das, Indian Consul-General, as saying.

"Guo Moruo, Bin Xing and Xu Zhimo, excellent writers themselves, were able to appreciate the ethos, technique, emotion and nuanced use of language in Tagore's writing," Zhao says.

Tagore's readings gained spotlight after 1979, when Zhao wrote an article, Little Bird, Where are you Going?, exploring Tagore's impact on the poetry written by his generation.

Now in 2010, young people are quoting from Tagore in Valentine's Day messages. Young media professional Xi Qin recently read Tagore to help with research for a documentary and realized "I was missing out on a part of my nation's history that we were not taught in school". She found herself inscrutably drawn to Tagore's "expressive" and "imaginative" language.

Zhang Xiaoyu, a student at the Communications University of China in Beijing, loves singing Tagore's inspirational number championing the values of freedom and democracy, "In this land of kings, we are kings all".

"I won't say this is another high tide of Tagore appreciation in China," Zhao says. "But the fact that young people are still reading Tagore in considerable numbers, blogging about his poems on the Internet, despite the wide range of options available, is a positive sign." (ANI)

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