“[RABINDRANATH Tagore] wished to bring out into the open, and consciously and critically look at the position of women in society. He wanted his stories to be the mirror in which men will see themselves in new light as because it’s necessary to change the way men look at themselves in order to change the lives of women,” said Linda Barnes, acting Mayor of Richmond, in her opening speech while inaugurating the International Women’s Day event “Tagore and Women Empowerment”.
The event, held at the Richmond Council Chambers, was organized by Vancouver Tagore Society with support from the City of Richmond. The acting Mayor also talked about the significance of International Women’s Day and Richmond’s commitment to women’s rights, multiculturalism and diversity. Richmond Councillor Linda McPhail, Indian Consul General Ravi Shankar Aisola and his wife, Priti Aisola, were among the dignitaries present at the program.
President of Vancouver Tagore Society, Lee Tan, in his welcome speech reminisced about his childhood memories at Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore’s Santi Niketan Asram, particularly about Tagore’s effort at establishing a girls’ school and dormitory at Santi Niketan. Noted vocalist Shankhanaad Mallick enthralled the audience with his bare-voice (khali-golay) singing of a Tagore song, “Bhoy Hote Tobo Obhoy Majhe” (Away from fear into your fearlessness). Priti Aisola, poet and author, read her poem about the sad story of a betrayed woman, “Today, Years Later”. This was followed by a short video documentary summarizing Tagore’s multi-faceted work for empowering and uplifting women. The documentary was produced by Zahur Ashrafuzzaman. The program was hosted by Dr. Sanzida Swati Habib and Amlan Das Gupta.
The central feature of the event was the screening of world-famous filmmaker Satyajit Ray’s movie Ghare-Baire (The Home and the World) based on the novel of the same title by Rabindranath Tagore. An enlightening and invigorating panel discussion ensued. The panel of distinguished scholars and authors Shila Sengupta, Ashok Bhargava, Bernice Lever and Dr. Tirthankar Bose talked about Tagore’s views on role of women in family and society and their struggle for emancipation and how subtly and intricately he portrayed these in his novel. The panel discussion was moderated by Duke Ashrafuzzaman. The event, coordinated by Raihan Akhter, ended with socials and refreshments.