January 26, 2019
Bangla’s 2019 Republic Day tableau highlights Mahatma Gandhi’s ties with the State
This year, at the Republic Day parade on January 26 in New Delhi, the theme of the tableau sent by the Bangla Government was ‘Gandhi Ji in Santiniketan and Beliaghata’. The whole concept was conceived by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
Responding to the invitation of Rabindranath Tagore, Mahatma Gandhi had come to Santiniketan in 1915, and stayed at the house named ‘Shyamali’. On August 13, 1947 in an effort to quell communal riots in Kolkata, Gandhi ji had started a 72-hour fast. He stayed at Hyderi Manzil during the time. On the day of independence, August 15, Gandhi ji was on fast in Kolkata.
The tableau this year had a fibreglass model of Shyamali and various other models. Ten artistes enacted the characters of Mahatma Gandhi and others on the tableau as it rolled along Janpath.
It may be mentioned that the State’s tableaus have had a successful run at the annual Republic Day parades in the national capital throughout the rule of the Trinamool Congress. After a gap of almost 13 years, when the Left Front Government had decided against sending them, Bangla restarted sending tableaus for the Republic Day parades from 2012.
In 2012, the theme was ‘Basantotsav’, as held in Santiniketan; in 2013, it was the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda; in 2014, it was chhau dance of Purulia; in 2016, it was the baul artistes of Bangla; and in 2017, it was ‘Sharodotsav’, as the festival of Durga Puja is also known. Both in 2014 and 2016, the tableaus had won the first prize.
Controversially, in 2015, the Centre did not allow the State’s internationally-feted Kanyashree Scheme to be displayed as a tableau. Credit must however be given to Mamata Banerjee that she has not backed off, and has continued sending prize-winning concepts for the marquee show on Republic Day.