Bangladeshi singer Rezwana Choudhury Bannya has been presented with the civilian title Banga Bhushan, instituted by the West Bengal Government, at a ceremony held in Kolkata, on May 20.
The renowned Rabindra Sangeet artist received the honour from Mamata Banerjee, the Chief Minister of West Bengal, at the ceremony which took place at the Nazrul Mancha, in South Kolkata. The chief minister handed over an honourarium crest to Bannya and adorned her with an Uttario.
Contemporary Bengali poet Nirendra Nath Chakraborty and legendary actor Soumitra Chatterjee were honoured with Banga Bibhushan in the ceremony as well, while Lakhan Das Baul and Khejmat Fakir, among others, received the Banga Bhushan.
Bannya, one of the greatest Rabindra Sangeet singers of the contemporary period, has played a significant role in popularising Rabindra Sangeet, both home and abroad.
During her studies at the Visva-Bharati University in Shantiniketan, Bannya was mentored by Kanika Bandopadhyay, Nilima Sen, Ashesh Bandopadhyay, and Santidev Ghosh. In 2002, she was honoured with the Ananda Sangeet Puroshkar for being the best female Rabindra Sangeet artist. Bannya also received the Sangeet Samman Puroshkar from the Ministry of Culture, India, in 2013.
Bannya founded a musical school Shurer Dhara in 1992, in Dhaka, and she is a faculty of music at Dhaka University. She has spent the last 35 years bringing Tagore’s music and its message to the world through concert appearances, her lectures and recordings.
Mamata Banerjee initiated these two civilian honours back in 2011. Following the trend, Banga Bibhushan and Banga Bhushan are being treated as the highest and second highest honours since 2012.
In 2015, the West Bengal Government honoured another eminent Bangladeshi Nazrul Sangeet artiste Feroza Begum with the Banga Bibhushan (posthumous) title.