Vol. 4 Num 158 Sun. November 02, 2003  

Under the shady trees of Shantiniketan
Aditi Mohsin recalls her days at Tagore's university

Aditi Mohsin teaches at "Chayanaut," and has a first class first in music from Shantiniketan to her credit, apart from numerous well-attended public performances. Recalling the fruitful days at her university, Aditi said that when she went there years back, the environment was fresh and beautiful. According to her, there were many trees, bushes, birds and open skies for anyone to enjoy.

Also, she said, the teachers who were there were different from the ones one finds here in Bangladesh. Aditi said, "I cannot convey the difference in words or put my finger on what made me feel so wanted and loved by my instructors. I've never quite had the sense of belonging anywhere else. Here, in the universities and learning centres, there is often a yawning gap that can hardly be overcome". Aditi added that since Shantiniketan is a relatively smaller and a residential university the environment is much more congenial.

The ratio of the teachers and students is much better at Shantineketan, she added. "In our classes, in the first year, we were about 40 but by the time we reached the Masters level this was much less." There were about 10 teachers there, we are told, among which were famous artistes like Konika Bandhapaddiya, Nilima Sen, Shostika Mukhopaddiya, Arup Ratan Bannerji. The amicable relationship between the teachers and students that followed, during Aditi's time, was an idyllic one indeed. Often the students would casually visit the teachers' homes and come away having taken lessons in singing, and having understood the lectures better with the added tutoring. The teachers took the handling of students too quite graciously, giving their time very generously. "Whether it be music or other studies, due to the environment you never felt weary or careworn and you studied to the best of your ability. You felt no tension and had no weariness, fret."

Dwelling on the memorable musical programmes, Aditi recalled that there were many programmes there every year such as the "Boshanto Udshob," which took place during "dol purnima" (full moon). There was also "Shatoi Paush" when a fair was held for four days, and which is now like a national Indian fair. "One the fourth day, Aditi said, "there is a large programme under the "Chhatim tola" where people come from all over India. Here we sang and such an experience is undoubtedly unforgettable. As a student of Shantiniketan, I went to far flung places too like to the Delhi parliament for the 75th anniversary of Viswa Bharati. Again, every Wednesday, the weekly holiday at Shantiniketan, for instance there was the special programme at the "Mandir", beginning at 6am. School children came here too along with people from the Shantiniketan ashram."

Aditi added that everybody connected with the university gathered here irrespective of religion, caste, gender or age. "Those who come to visit the place casually came here too, she added. There were, at his place three "Rabindrasangeet" songs of the religious variety, on each occasion. There was reading from readings termed as "paat" which could be on nature, love or any other subject. Those like me sang and we wore white saris which could have interwoven designs or borders of other colours, a tradition that has come down from Tagore's days. The men wore white too."

For a young singer like Aditi, her Shantiniketan days were indeed balmy and buoyant ones.

Spring festival known as Dol Purnima open air dance by students of Sanghit Bhavan