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Remembering rebel poet Nazrul

Wednesday, 25 May 2022


Wednesday marks the 123rd birth anniversary of national poet Kazi Nazrul Islam, widely revered for his limitless contribution to Bengali literature.

Known and regarded as the ‘rebel poet’ for his iconoclastic and majestic literary creations, Kazi Nazrul was born in  Churulia village of Burdwan in the Indian state of West Bengal in 1899.

Through his fiery poems, the poet had inspired people to fight against the injustice and repression of colonial rule, reports UNB. 

To mark the day without the fear of Covid-19 for the first time in two years, several government and non-government bodies and different cultural organisations have organised multiple cultural programmes and discussions on the life and works of the rebel poet. 

This year, the birth anniversary celebration theme is the "Rebel’s Centenary".

President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina have issued separate messages, highlighting the colourful life of the poet and his contributions to Bangla language and literature.

In the morning, the Ministry of Cultural Affairs paid its tribute to the poet by placing floral wreaths on his grave beside the Dhaka University Central Mosque.

The main event marking the national poet's 123rd birth anniversary will take place at Cumilla Birchandra Public Library and City Auditorium (Town Hall) at 11am.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Hasan Mahmud will be present at the opening ceremony as the chief guest, which will be joined by Nazrul’s granddaughter Khilkhil Kazi as a special guest.

The country’s leading cultural institution Chhayanaut has organised a two-day 'Nazrul Uthsab' at Chhayanaut Sangskriti Bhaban, Dhanmondi, in the capital.

On Tuesday, Jatiya Kabi Kazi Nazrul Islam University (JKKNIU) in Trishal, Mymensingh, inaugurated a three-day celebration programme, featuring discussions, awards ceremony, photography exhibition and cultural programmes.

Several TV channels, radio stations and online platforms are airing special programmes, marking the occasion. Newspapers published special supplements on the occasion.

According to the Nazrul Institute, Kazi Nazrul wrote 2,600 songs, 600 poetry, three novels, and 43 articles in a career spanning 21 years before losing his speech.

After the death of his father, Kazi Nazrul obtained a job as a caregiver and also worked as a muezzin at a mosque to support his family. At the age of nine, he had to drop out of school to join a Churulia-based professional ‘leto' company.

He was introduced to Bangali and Sanskrit literature while working for the group. He returned to school a year later and enrolled at Matharun English School, but dropped out again in Class VI due to poverty.

After a while, police officer Kazi Rafizullah took him in at his home in Trishal, Mymensingh, and enrolled him in Class VII at Darirampur School.

Serving the British Army in 1917 as a soldier, Kazi Nazrul started his literary career within a few years. His cult-classic poem ‘Bidrohi’ (The Rebel) was published in 1921. A year later, he started a fortnightly magazine named ‘Dhumketu’ (The Comet).

His nationalist participation in the Indian Independence Movement landed him in the hands of colonial British authorities on several occasions.

While in prison, Kazi Nazrul authored the 'Rajbandir Jabanbandi' (Deposition of a Political Prisoner), and his creations later encouraged Bangladesh Liberation War.

Freedom, humanity, love and revolution are the constant themes in Kazi Nazrul's majestic literary creations. He was against all sorts of religious, caste-based, and gender-based discrimination and extremism.

He wrote short stories, novels and essays, but his songs and poems are his most critically acclaimed literary creations. He popularised Bengali ghazal melodies, and is noted for his liberal usage of Arabic and Persian terms in his writings.

Kazi Nazrul created a new genre in music called ‘Nazrul Geeti’, a collection of 4,000 songs that he wrote and created the music for, many of which were recorded on HMV.

In 1942, Kazi Nazrul began to lose his voice and memory due to an unexplained ailment. Later, a medical team in Vienna identified his illness as Pick's disease, a rare and incurable neurodegenerative disease.

His family travelled to Bangladesh at the invitation of then Bangladeshi government and settled down in Dhaka in 1972. For his iconic contribution to Bangla literature and culture, Dhaka University awarded him an honorary post-doctoral degree in 1974. He was awarded Ekushey Padak in 1976.

Kazi Nazrul breathed his last in Dhaka on August 29, 1976.