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Jana Gana Mana: India’s National Anthem

The national anthem of India exhibits unity in diversity by binding Indians across the world. Rabindranath Tagore composed India’s national anthem Jana Gana Mana Adhinayaka on 11 December 1911. The song was first sung at the Calcutta session of Congress.
|| Rhythima Agrawal

The journey of the song unfolds an interesting history. Written by Nobel Laureate, poet, litterateur and artist Rabindranath Tagore the song is a Brahmo hymn composed in highly sankritised Bengali. It was first sung at the session of the Indian National Congress on December 27, 1911 and eventually adopted as the Indian National Anthem by the Indian Constitution when it came into force in 1950. Originally, of five stanzas, the formal rendition however, was finally decided to be ideally of 52 seconds by the constitution of India, and so includes only the first stanza. Praising the God almighty, the song also beautifully represents message of ‘unity in diversity’- a concept that portrays the very essence of the socio-cultural ethos of the nation of India. Sung proudly by Indians all across the globe, the song has also been translated into various local dialects for better understanding over the ages and is available in libraries across the nation. A handwritten translation in English named The Morning Song of India is available for free over the InternetThe version is not only popular for its lyrical splendor, but reminds one of the original ethoses of the beauty of manuscripts and the cursive appeal or the pen. Down the course of history, the song has stood against several tests of time, including the much debatable question regarding the essence of the song, which many claimed was originally written in salutation to King George V on the Delhi Durbar on December 15, 1911. An article titled Coronation Durbar, dated December 15, 1911, which appeared in the Indian English daily ‘The Statesman’, specifically mentions the event that took place a century back in Delhi. Referring to the visit of the king to the Royal Pavilion on the Polo grounds for conferring of medals to men in uniform, the event was preceded by the song, which is mentioned as- “On the arrival of the King-Emperor inside the entrance of the parade ground, the military guard-of-honor presented arms and the band played the National Anthem.”

The debate however continues amidst historians with divided opinions regarding the actual reason for the creation of the song. Today, yet again is a demand for inclusion of other states from the Northeast and the controversies continue…A hundred years later, in the land of the birthplace of the song, the occasion was marked by a special event at the same location where it was sung a hundred years ago- the Town Hall in Kolkata. Through an initiative of the state government and in the presence of the Governor of West Bengal, Mr MK Naryanan and chief minister Ms Mamata Banerjee, the song was sung at the Kolkata Town Hall, accompanied by a programme on special cinematography, stage performance and narration, orchestrated by filmmaker and actor Rituparno Ghosh.

The National Anthem of India is played or sung on various occasions. Instructions have been issued from time to time about the correct versions of the Anthem, the occasions on which these are to be played or sung, and about the need for paying respect to the anthem by observance of proper decorum on such occasions. The substance of these instructions has been embodied in the information sheet issued by the government of India for general information and guidance. The approximate duration of the Full Version of National Anthem of India is 52 seconds and 20 seconds for shorter version.

Thus, travelling far and wide through the passage of time, the National Anthem of India witnesses history being made at several occasions as men and women of all ages across the globe stand, often moist-eyed and with heavy hearts, singing the song and gazing upon the fluttering of the tricolor flag- whose hoisting emboldens the national sentiment of the song and the sacrosanct feeling associated with it. The song binds all, irrespective of geographical, socio cultural, political and religious diversities.

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