Sunday, September 25, 2011

Hindu Revivalsm - Hindu Mela (contd-4)

Hindu Mela was a socio-cultural organisation aimed at reviving the glory of Indian civilisation, mobilise the Hindus, especially the youth, and to cultivate the national language and ideas, so as to fight the cultural colonisation of British. This organisation was mainly supported by several members of the Tagore family, Rajnarayan Basu and Nabagopal Mitra (the editor of the National paper).
In April 1867, on the day of the Chaitra Sankranti (the last day of the Bengali year) the Hindu Mela was established. A formal committee was set up on the first day of the Mela of which Ganendranath Tagore became the first secretary and Nabagopal Mitra the chief organiser. An exhibition was arranged on the occasion with National art-work, handicrafts, cottage industries etc. Among others who took active interest in the Mela were Dwijendranath Tagore, Rajnarayan Basu, Kristodas Pal, Girish Chandra Ghosh, Raja Kamal Krishna Bahadur and others. This was an early attempt to fight British Imperialism and to develop national industries.
The first three annual gatherings was also called Chaitra Mela. A national fair was organised on Chaitra Sankranti. The annual mela was inaugurated amidst the patriotic song of Dwijendranath Tagore- Malina Mukhochandra Ma Bharat Tomari (O mother India, your moon-face is so gloomy...). At the second annual Mela (1868), held at Belgachia and presided by Gnanandranath Tagore, a patriotic song composed by Satyendranath (when he was an ICS) - Gao Bharater Joy was sung . This song was virtually the National Song till Bankim Chandra wrote Bande Mataram to replace it.. The details of the Mela was published in detail in all the news papers and magazines. In its annual gathering of 1875, Rabindranath Tagore recited his own poetry -Hindu Melar Upahar - which was publised in Amrita Bazar Patrika of 25 February 1875. The Hindu Mela gradually lost ground unable to cope with the new and complex demands of the 1880s and 1890s. In the 1890s the Mela gradually faded away. But the spirit of swadeshi that it invoked in the minds of the Bengalis survived, which was subsequently developed during the Swadeshi Movement during the early period of twentieth century
The man who, more than any one else, was responsible for fostering nationalism in Bengal was Rajnarayan Basu. Himself a radical and a great devotee of the West in his youthful days, Rajnarayan decided to promote national awareness for the Indian culture. In 1866 he established the society for the Promotion of National Feeling (Jatiya Gaurab Sampadani Sabha). The purpose of the society, as he clearly mentioned it, was not political agitation or religious movement; it was to encourage the growth of the nation's cultural life in its various manifestations. Inspired by his ideas, Nabagopal Mitra established the Jatiya Mela, later, renamed Hindu Mela, in 1867. He started an annual gathering known as the Hindu Mela in order "to promote the national feeling, sense of patriotism, ans a spirit of self-help among the Hindus." The special features of the gathering were parriotic songs, poems, and lectures , a detailed review of the political, social, economic and religious conditions of India, an exhibition of indegigenous arts and crafts and performances of indigenous forms of physical exercises and feats of physical strength. It had an all India outlook, and specimens of arts, crafts, were collected from banaras, jaipur, Laknau, Patna, and Kashmir.    
The Hindu Mela met altogether fourteen times from 1867 to 1880. An association, called the 'National Society' , was founded after the fourth session of the Mela.As the Mela was confined to the Hindus, objection was made to use the word 'National' . Against this, the National Paper, the organ of the Mela observed as follows;
"we donot understand why our correspondent takes exception to the Hindus who certainly form a nation by themselves, and as such a society established by them can very well be called "National Society."   Nabagopal elaborated his view of Hindu Nationalism through his writings."the principles which promoted nationalism amongst the Greeks was love of country, among the Jew the Mosaic  Law, amongst the Romans the love of liberty and renown and amongst the English the love of liberty."