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Shelaidah could be Shantiniketan in Bangladesh

09 November 2022
Shelaidah could be Shantiniketan in Bangladesh

Mohammad Amjad Hossain :
The Shelaidah derives its name from two words: Sheli and Daha. Mr. Sheli, an Englishman used to reside in the area. He was in fact, an indigo planter whose Nilkuti had been washed away by the erosion of the river Padma. The Daha means a pool of waters. The name of the village, therefore, means a pool of water. The name of the village formed on the pool. Two toms on the grave of two members of Mr. Sheli's family were also washed away by the erosion of the river. In fact, there was a saying that Mr. Sheli was a ruthless Indigo planter in the area. The River Padma does not exist near Shelidah any more when Rabidra Nath Tagore used to live there.Nobel laureate poet, writer and singer Rabindranath Tagore had spent time in Shelidah from 1891 to 1901 as written by Krishna Dutta and Andrew Robinsonin 1995.
It seems interesting to know why and when Rabindranath went to Shelaidaha. Since his grandfather Dwarkanath Tagore passed Zamindary of Nator Raj in an auction in 1800, The area of this estate was spread over to Patisar of Rajshahi, Shahjadpur of Sirajganj and Birahimpur of Nadia district. Since Rabindranath's other brothers are not interested to look after zamindary his Father Debendra Nath Tagore has assigned Rabindranath Tagore to look after estates. Therefore, he was assigned to look after zamindari of his father in 1891.Of the entire area of the estates, Kutibhari of Shilaidaha was the only brick-built house. Existing kuthibari of Shilaidaha where Rabindranath Tagore had spent best part of his life was rebuilt by Rabindranath himself after dismantling the one built by Indigo planter when old kutibhari was about to be eroded by mighty waves of the Padma. The elegant three storey building Kuthibari stands in the middle of large courtyard which includes two tanks, a mango grave and host of other blossoming trees. The building has seventeen rooms while Raabindranath Tagore used a room in the second floor for his creative writings. From this room one could used to watch fury of Padma and Gorai by the side of which Kushtia town was situated. Incidentally, Rabindranath Tagore himself planted Bukul trees on two sides of brick made bathing place. Now neither Padma nor Gorai exist in Shelaidaha. The river Padma was a source of inspiration to the Poet Rabindranath Tagore for contributing to Bengali literature. According to Krishna Dutta and Andrew Robinson Rabindranath wrote fifty nine short stories. Edward Thomson, having translated a number of them, was convinced that they were among the world's great short stories. Now Padma is practically dead on this side. This writer quotes from Sonar Tori written in Shelaidah:
Clouds are roaring and thundering in the sky
Full of rainy season,
Musing and meditating alone on the bank
Full of despair ---
Shelaidah years were found in Tagore's poems, songs, plays, musical dramas and plays.
During the period of administration under Rabindranath Tagore, Shelaidah looked vibrant and young because of the hubbub of the two mighty rivers. Later Shelaidaha estate went under control of Suendranath Tagore in 1922, but Rabindranath paid a few visits to Shelaidah after division, and though he finally decided to stay in Zorashako, but Rabindranath felt pangs of separation from Shelaidaha. Following his last visit to Shelaidah, Rabindranath reported to have written that Padma had divorced him.
As a matter of fact Rabindranath Tagore was invited by the sponsor of the Bengal Rural Literature conference which was held in March, 1940 at Shelaidah. Munshi Nooruddin Ahmed who was the Chairman of Shelidah union council was one of the sponsors of the conference. Incidentally, the late Nooruddin Ahmed was my fufah, who served Shelihdah union council for twenty years and Vice-Chairman of Kushtia district board for four years. As vice-chairman of the District board he wrote a letter to the government of East Pakistan to make Kuthibari as the national asset to preserve the memory of the universal poet Rabindranath Tagore. Chief Minister of East Pakistan Mr. Ataur Rahman khan was declared as a protected monument under the ancient monument act of 1904 on the basis of the report submitted by late Ekramul Haq, senior Information officer of East Pakistan. Incidentally late Ekramul Haq, expired on 4 November 1999, was also related to me. There is enough space on the other side of Kuthibari where a university could be established.

(Mohammad Amjad Hossain, retired diplomat from Bangladesh, former Joint Director of Central Kachi-Kachar Mela   and former President of Nova Toastmaster International Club of America,
writes from Falls
Church, Virginia).

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