Nabadwip, May 24: A Vaishnava temple authority in Nadia’s Nabadwip issued an unconditional apology through a written statement from residents of the town after it was accused of forcing a dance institute to remove pictures of poet Kazi Nazrul Islam because he was a Muslim. The temple authority under pressure and criticism, on Tuesday evening, acknowledged it as a “mistake”, that they would never commit again.
More known as a Bidrohi Kabi – a rebel poet, Kazi Nazrul Islam (1899-1976) was a man with versatile literary qualities. He was one of the greatest poets in Bengali literature as well as a writer, composer, and honored as the National poet of Bangladesh.
The Nabadwip Step up Dance Academy rented the “Nat Manch” of the temple for a musical soiree in memory of two great Indian poets – Rabindranath Tagore and Kazi Nazrul Islam last Sunday and made a flex banner with pictures of the two great poets of Bengali literature to put at the back of the stage. They also put a framed picture of Kazi Nazrul Islam – known as the “Bidrohi Kabi” (rebel poet) for garlanding.
But, barely a few minutes before the commencement of the programme the authorities of “Radha Govinda Jiu Temple”, located near the Ranir Ghat area of the town, categorically asked the organizers not to put any picture of a person who is “Non-Hindu”. The temple chief Mallika Dasi also allegedly directed the organizers not to put any garland on his image.
Having no time in hand, the organizers had to accept the verbal order and continued with the event with a token protest. But, the absence of any picture made the visitors curious, who knowing the actual reasons made several posts on social media platforms, causing a furor in the town.
Speaking to The NfN, Bandana Saha principal of the dance academy said, “We were preparing to put banners with pictures of the two poets as a tribute…But, I was utterly shocked when an official of the temple told me that any such banner with the picture of Kazi Nazrul Islam cannot be allowed since he belongs to a different religion. The official also strictly directed us not to garland his image inside the temple. However, they made no objection about Rabindranath Tagore, because he was a Hindu”
“It was quite clear that they raised objection about Kazi Nazrul Islam because he was a Muslim”…”
“We all tried to convince him that Kazi Nazrul Islam was a man beyond any religious identity because of his to the Bengali literature and music that includes many songs of religious devotional with offerings for Hindu gods like Srikrishna and Maa Kali. But, unfortunately, the temple authorities remain rigid to their stand and we had no time for any alternative and were compelled to oblige them with a protest”, Bandana added.
The humiliation of a great poet, who was against any form of bigotry and fundamentalism, angered the residents of the town once news spread through social media.
“We thought devotees might object to the picture of Nazrul Islam….But we guessed it wrong”. – Mallika Das, Radha Govinda Jiu Temple
Shyamasree Biswas Sengupta, an assistant professor with Kalyani University’s Bengali department, said, “Nazrul Islam was born in an orthodox Sunni Muslim family. But he was in real terms a pluralist and went beyond the religious barriers. It is quite shocking to learn that a person who composed a few thousand songs that includes Hindu religious devotional songs that include Hey Govinda Rakho Charoney can be ostracized at a Vaishnab temple”.
Santiranjan Deb, secretary of Nabadwip Puratattva Parishad said, “This is literally an incident of ostracisation of Kazi Nazrul Islam in a town like Nabadwip which always feel proud of its association with Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and his Bhaki movement. Such act can only be done out of sheer ignorance or hate”.
Chief of Radha Gobinda Jiu temple Mallika Dasi said, “We thought devotees might object to the picture of Nazrul Islam….But we guessed it wrong”.
In the written apology she stated, “We have hurt the emotions of the residents of the town. We understood that Kazi Nazrul Islam was beyond any communal identity. We, therefore, seek an unconditional apology and assure all that no repetition of such an episode will occur again”.