SANTINIKETAN, March 7: The Visva Bharati University has decided to cancel the 'Basanto Utsav' (spring festival), slated to be held on March 9 this year, in the wake of a letter by Union HRD Ministry advising against any large gathering in the campus in the wake of the coronavirus scare.
Member of Executive Council, the highest decision making body of the university, Sushobhan Sarkar told reporters after a five-hour long emergency meeting of the EC, it was decided the customary 'Basanto Utsav', which was being held in the campus for ages as the festival of colours, will not be held this year.
"Novel coronavirus spreads from gathering, it is a dangerous virus and we have to look for small kids. If one incident happens we cannot have any other option. Hence the EC declared the Basanto Utsav closed this year. We will try to have it next time," the senior EC member said.
The EC meeting took place in the wake of a letter received from MHRD and Union ministry of Health and Family Welfare requesting all universities not to hold anything where there is a gathering, he said.
The UGC in its letter to Visva Bharati said for taking combative measures to check the outbreak of novel coronavirus in the country, a coordinated effort is the collective need.
"All universities and their affiliated colleges are therefore requested to take necessary precautions and follow the advisory given below in prevention/reduction of the virus," the letter said.
Hence "universities and colleges are advised to avoid large gatherings in the campus," the letter said.
Visva Bharati spokesman Anirban Sarkar said "after getting the letter from MHRD we had no other option but to cancel the Basanto Utsav in the prevailing situation. However, we are grateful to the state government who had promised all help in holding the event."
"We will organise it at a later date in future," he said.
"We welcome the EC decision as the safety of people is more important than anything else," Visva Bharati SFI leader Somnath Sau said.
The teachers of the institution also said they were in favour of the move even though people of Bolpur and elsewhere in the state look forward to Basanto Utsav and Pous Mela every year.
Rabindranath Tagore had started 'Dol utsav' in his institution with colourful cultural programmes.
The students of Visva-Bharti celebrate this festival with Tagore's 'Ore Grihobasi' song every year as thousands attend from different parts of the country and smear gulal on each other's face. - PTI