URBANA — The annual Tagore Festival will take place Saturday at the Channing Murray Foundation; it marks the 25th anniversary of the first Tagore Festival at the foundation.
The event, with the theme "Tagore: The Rebel from the East," celebrates Nobel Prize-winning poet Rabindranath Tagore's first visit to Urbana in 1912 — and his first public lecture in the United States — at the Unitarian Church of Urbana, as the Channing-Murray Foundation was known at that time.
The opening reception will be from 4 to 5 p.m. with an opening song at 5. University of Kentucky Professor Kathi Kern will deliver the keynote lecture, "Tagore the Feminist," from 5:15 to 6:15; after that will be an hour or so of cultural programming and a catered dinner, which usually sells out (the deadline for reserving dinner reservations is Thursday).
The organizers of the Tagore Festival are the East Central Illinois Bengali Association and the Channing Murray Foundation. Various units of the University of Illinois also make donations to the event, making it possible for a reputed scholar or artist to deliver the keynote lecture every year.
Tagore (1861-1941) visited Urbana twice, in 1912-13 and in 1916-17, returning as a celebrity because he was the first non-European or non-American to win the Nobel Prize in literature.
He had sent his son, Rathindranath, to study agriculture at the UI. During his stay in Urbana, Rathindranath Tagore co-founded the Cosmopolitan Club, an international students' organization that continues to have a vibrant presence on campus.