The 124th anniversary of the birth of national poet Kazi Nazrul Islam was commemorated on Thursday by various government and cultural organizations with different events throughout the nation. Traditionally on Jyaishtha 11, in accordance with the Bangla calendar, Bangladesh commemorates the birth anniversary of Nazrul, known and regarded also as the 'rebel poet' for his iconoclastic and majestic literary creations in several genres of Bengali literature.

Marking the occasion, several organizations paid their respect to the legendary poet by placing floral wreaths at his grave adjacent to the Central Mosque of Dhaka University on Thursday morning. Alongside the Ministry of Cultural Affairs, institutions such as Dhaka University, Bangla Academy, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, Chhayanaut, Kabi Nazrul Institute and other organisations placed floral wreaths at the grave of the poet at around 6:30 am.

The national poet's birth anniversary was observed in Trishal in Mymensingh, Doulatpur in Cumilla, Tewta in Manikganj, and Karpasdanga in Chuadanga and Chattogram, all of which are significant locations for the poet. This year's main celebration of the birth anniversary is being a three-day festival at Darirampur of Trishal in Mymensingh, jointly organised by the Ministry of Cultural Affairs and the local district administration. The celebration was inaugurated by the Deputy leader of the Jatiya Sangsad Begum Matia Chowdhury, while Kazi Nazrul Islam's granddaughter Khilkhil Kazi was present as an honourable speaker at the inaugural ceremony.

Jatiya Kabi Kazi Nazrul Islam University Vice Chancellor Soumitra Sekhar Dey delivered the commemorative speech while Ministry of Cultural Affairs Secretary Khalil Ahmed delivered the welcome speech at the ceremony, which was presided over by State Minister for Cultural Affairs KM Khalid. A cultural event featuring the literary creations of the national poet was held followed by the discussions.

Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy (BSA) organised a cultural programme at the National Theatre Hall at Segunbagicha in the capital to pay tribute to Nazrul, featuring BSA's child music artists group and the BSA children's dance troupe, performing group songs and dance recitals, simultaneously.

Esteemed Nazrul artists also sang Nazrul Sangeet to the delight of the audience. Mahidul Islam recited Nazrul's poem "Amar Kaifiyat" while Mir Barkat recited "Bhorer Pakhi" and Titu Munshi recited "Bidrohi" at the event while 'Nazrul Geeti' singers Bizon Mistry, Mirajul Jannat Sonia and Shamima Parvin Shimu performed songs among others. The dance troupe of Munmun Ahmed, Anik Bose and Sweety Das staged a dance recital synchronised with Nazrul songs.

Chhayanaut lifted the curtain on a two-day cultural programme at the Chhayanaut Shangskriti Bhaban at Dhanmondi in the capital on Thursday evening at 7 pm. The opening day of the programme featured solo and group songs, dance recitals and recitations.

A three-day programme organised by Nazrul Academy is underway in the capital's Moghbazar, featuring discussion and cultural performances. Besides, Kabi Nazrul Institute will organise a discussion and cultural programme at the Sufia Kamal Auditorium of Bangladesh National Museum on Friday. Jatiya Kabi Kazi Nazrul Islam University (JKKNIU) in Mymensingh is also observing the 124th birth anniversary of Nazrul through various events and cultural activities.

According to the Nazrul Institute, Kazi Nazrul wrote 2,600 songs, 600 poetry, three novels, and 43 articles in a career spanning 21 years before losing his speech.

After the death of his father, Kazi Nazrul obtained a job as a caregiver and also worked as a muezzin at a mosque to support his family. At the age of nine, he had to drop out of school to join a Churulia-based professional 'Leto' company. He was introduced to Bengali and Sanskrit literature while working for the group. He returned to school a year later and enrolled at Matharun English School, but dropped out again in Class VI due to poverty.

After a while, police officer Kazi Rafizullah took him in at his home in Trishal, Mymensingh, and enrolled him in Class VII at Darirampur School.

Serving the British Army in 1917 as a soldier, Kazi Nazrul started his literary career within a few years. His cult-classic poem 'Bidrohi' (The Rebel) was published in 1921. A year later, he started a fortnightly magazine named 'Dhumketu' (The Comet).

His nationalist participation in the Indian Independence Movement landed him in the hands of colonial British authorities on several occasions.

While in prison, Kazi Nazrul authored the 'Rajbandir Jabanbandi' (Deposition of a Political Prisoner), and his creations later encouraged Bangladesh Liberation War.

Freedom, humanity, love and revolution are the constant themes in Kazi Nazrul's majestic literary creations. He was against all sorts of religious, caste-based, and gender-based discrimination and extremism.

Although Nazrul penned a handful of short stories, novels and essays; his songs and poems are his most critically acclaimed literary creations. He popularised Bengali ghazal melodies and is noted for his liberal usage of Arabic and Persian terms in his writings.

Kazi Nazrul created a new genre in music called 'Nazrul Geeti', a collection of 4,000 songs that he wrote and created the music for, many of which were recorded on HMV. Even after all these years, his songs are vividly popular in both Bangladesh and India, being modernised through platforms such as Coke Studio Bangla with songs such as 'Bulbuli' and 'Darale Duaarey'.

In 1942, Kazi Nazrul Islam began to lose his voice and memory due to an unexplained ailment. Later, a medical team in Vienna identified his illness as Pick's disease, a rare and incurable neurodegenerative disease.

His family travelled to Bangladesh at the then-Bangladeshi government's invitation and settled in Dhaka in 1972. For his iconic contribution to Bangla literature and culture, Dhaka University awarded him an honorary post-doctoral degree in 1974. He was awarded Ekushey Padak in 1976.

The rebel poet breathed his last in Dhaka on August 29, 1976.

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