Tagore would have been immensely pleased with the way he was remembered in Buenos Aires on 10 December. There was Rabindra Sangeet by Sreyashi Mishra from Kolkatta, talk on Tagore- Victoria Ocampo by Axel Maimone, the Argentine scholar and recitation of Gitanjali poems by Gustavo of Hastinapur Foundation, Argentina. The setting for the celebration was perfect. It was in the garden of Vila Ocampo, the historic residence of Victoria Ocampo, where Tagore had met her and stayed as her guest for two months in 1924. The magnificent mansion with its beautiful garden, majestic trees and exotic flowers was shining in the golden rays of the evening sun. Even the the birds and insects in the garden joined in the celebration with their excited chirpings and singing.
Gustavo reciting Gitanjali...
In my speech I quoted this Tagore's poem,
I whispered again in your ear
what is your language dear
you smiled and shook your head
and the leaves murmurred instead
The audience had the opportunity to listen to the murmurrings of the leaves of the garden to the music of Rabindra Sangeet and the poems of Gitanjali. This splendid house and the fantastic garden filled with flowers had inspired Tagore to write his Purabi poems. The Exotic Blossom which had inspired and rejuvenated Tagore was Victoria herself.
Axel Maimone talking about the romance between Tagore and Ocampo
Victoria had inspired Tagore not only to write the Purabi poems but had also encouraged him to paint. She organised the first exihibition of Tagore's paintings in Paris in 1930 using her own funds and contacts.
Rabindra Sangeet by Sreyashi Mishra.
After the visit in 1924, Tagore and Victoria had exchanged a number of letters. Tagore had addressed Victoria as Vijaya and called her as ¨my bhaloabasa¨. Victoria started her letters with ¨Dear Gurudev¨ and ended with ¨your Vijaya¨. The easy chair which she gifted to Tagore is still in the Shantiniketan museum.
The Tagore- Victoria encounter was not just personal between the great poet and his admirer. It was the beginning of the literary and cultural encounter between India and Latin America. .
More on Tagore and Victoria in my blogs
Ketaki Kushari Dyson has written a book ¨In your blossoming flower garden¨ describing in detail the Tagore- Victoria relationship and reproduced their correspondence.
The Tagore celebration was part of the IV Festival of India 3-13 december, organised by the Embassy of India in Buenos Aires.