Visva Bharati University has decided to cancel the century-old "Poush Mela" in Santiniketan this year and the 'Basanto Utsav' next year in the wake of a letter by Indian human resources development ministry advising against any large gathering on campus for the coronavirus scare.
Sushovan Sarkar, a member of the university's executive council, told the media after a five-hour long emergency meeting of the EC on Friday night, that it was decided that the two landmark annual cultural events will not be held.
Poush Mela is held in December while Basanto Utsav is held in February-March every year.
The EC meeting took place in the wake of a letter received from the HRD ministry as well as the health ministry requesting all universities to not host anything that draws a large gathering, he said.
The University Grants Commission (UGC) in its letter to Visva Bharati said as part of tough steps to check the spread of coronavirus, "all universities and their affiliated colleges are advised to avoid large gatherings in the campus."
The teachers and students union leaders of the university said they too were in favour of the move even though people of Bolpur and elsewhere in the state look forward to Basanto Utsav and Poush Mela every year.
The Poush Mela was started by Maharishi Debendranath Tagore, father of poet Rabindranath Tagore, in 1892 and has been held since then only being barred twice -- during the 1943 Bengal famine and the Second World War in 1945.
It was Rabindranath who started Basanto 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 from different parts of the country attend and smear 'aabir' on each other's faces.