Today (Sunday) is the 161st birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore. On the occasion, Rabindra Sangeet singer Sadi Mohammad will be singing at Sirajganj’s Shahjadpur. He talked to Prothom Alo about his Rabindra devotion, memories of celebrating Kabi Guru’s birthday and more.
Where will you sing on Kobi Guru’s birth anniversary?
People could hear my songs through recorded programmes on Channel i in the morning and on BTV at 10.30 pm. In the evening, a musical programme has been arranged at Rabindranath’s Kacharibari in Shahjadpur. And I will be singing live there.
Do you recall memories of celebrating Rabindranath Tagore’s birthday, during your stay at Santiniketan?
There used to be no such festivals there on his birth anniversary because it falls under the Rarh region. The soil there was harsh and there used to be a water crisis. The water level used to fall low. Rabindranath announced a break for everyone at the ashram then. The heat was terrible back then.
When we were studying at Santiniketan, we used to get a break after the celebration of Pahela Baishakh, Bengali New Year. But, I used to stay back. I came home only during the Puja vacation. Those of us who stayed back at the ashram used to sing one Rabindra Sangeet after another sitting at the glass temple on 25th Baishakh.
He was a follower of Brahma religion, which was founded based on the ideology of monotheism. There is ‘Ekamevadvitiyam’ imprinted on the wall of the temple. The temple or prayer hall is decorated with colourful stained glass in the old architectural style.
The people visiting there would be bathed in the red and green rays of light entering through the stained glass. We used to go there in the early morning. At sunrise, the rays used to bathe everyone with the colourful light. It was as if Rabindranath himself was showering us with the rays.
So Rabindranath’s birthday was not celebrated!
Kabi Guru had hinted on celebrating Pahela Baishakh in a grand manner instead. He had said, welcome the Bengali New Year amid festivity and consider that as my birthday celebration. He was no enthusiastic about celebrating birthdays. Basically, his birthday festivities used to be held on Pahela Baishakh.
You taught Rabindra Sangeet online, during the corona period. Did your students resume physical classes?
They visit my home now. We enjoy tea, coffee and snacks together and sing in the open air. None of us wear masks anymore. I pray that we don’t have to put on masks ever again and we can continue singing in the open.
Though my students liked online classes, it felt dreadful to me. I found that extremely difficult. Now they come to visit me, I talk to them and teach them face to face. My students are very dedicated. They have devotion as well as the will to learn.
What’s your realisation today after practicing Rabindra Sangeet for so long?
It’s tough to understand him. However, I relate his life with mine sometimes and they match occasionally. Now I just feel that I never deceive the students that come to learn music to me. Just like my mentors taught me music with attention and care, I try to make sure that my students can learn music in that same way. With this honesty, I sing, teach and talk about Rabindra Sangeet, the way I talked right now.
When will we get a global Rabindra university like Visva Bharati?
It just got started and still remains under water. First the water needs to be removed and then there will be buildings constructed there. It is a university only in the documents now. Perhaps we won’t be around to see that. But, I’m already tempted to teach there, diving underwater!