From lecture series to exhibitions and heritage walks, it's a packed schedule at the Patna University centenary celebration, which is likely to be formally inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The country's seventh oldest university, whose iconic premises sit handsomely on the banks of river Ganga, will complete glorious 100 years on October 1, its journey punctuated with decades of academic glory and institutional decay.
"We have prepared a whole calendar of events for this momentous occasion, which is spread over four months, starting September. The sporting activities are already underway. As itis a historic institution, we have invited the Prime Minister to formally open the centenary celebrations," PU Vice-Chancellor Rash Bihari Prasad Singh said. He said the PU buildings have been refurbished and the various committees constituted to mark the 100th anniversary, are working diligently to put up the best, in anticipation of the prime minister's arrival.
"The Prime Minister's Office has communicated it to us that the PM has in-principle given his consent to open the celebrations. Since October 1 falls around Dussehra, we are expecting a date sometime late next month," Mr Singh told PTI.
Excitement is high among the students, teachers and other members of the university which was set up five years after the creation of the province of Bihar & Orissa, which was born out of years of struggle led by men like Sachchidananda Sinha, who went on to also become its vice-chancellor from 1936-1944.
Ten colleges, including the over 150-year-old Patna College, once hailed as the 'Oxford of the East', the Patna Science College, the Patna Women's College and the Patna Training College are part of the university.
Its riverside campus is also endowed with the iconic Wheeler Senate House, the old University Library, and the erstwhile Bihar College of Engineering, now NIT-Patna.
"A special commemorative column -- 'Centenary Pillar' -- has been erected in front of the new Central Library building and it was inaugurated by Governor K N Tripathi in July. We have also written to the Department of Posts for issuing a centenary stamp," the PU vice-chancellor said.
"We have also written to the UGC seeking a heritage status from them and the centenary grant," he said.
A 'Centenary Run' was also held this morning in Patna, beginning from the Wheeler Senate House and culminating at Kargil Chowk at Gandhi Maidan, passing through the historic Ashok Rajpath, a senior official said.
Mr Singh, recently was in Delhi to meet President Ram Nath Kovind and invited him to the centenary celebrations. Kovind was earlier the Governor of Bihar (Chancellor of PU) before ascending from the Raj Bhawan to the Rashtrpathi Bhavan in July.
"We have requested Kovind sahab to close the centenary celebrations. And, the PM and the President, if both grace the occasions, it would be a double honour for us, and for the oldest university of this historic city," he said.
Last year in March, Modi had also closed the year-long centenary celebrations of the Patna High Court.
For the next four months, the calendar is packed with activities, ranging from symposiums and conferences to essay, plays, quiz and photography competitions, besides a number of competitive cultural performances.
Also, a special exhibition would be held of rare manuscripts and other artifacts in possession of the university, stored at its library and other places, Singh said, adding, a "centenary souvenir" and the "centenary issue of the PU journal" would also be launched to mark 100 years.
"We are also working on erecting two grand 'Centenary Gates'. One would be installed at the main entrance, replacing the old main gate, while the other would replace the old gate of the distance education department, both facing the Ashok Rajpath.
"The NIT-Patna Architecture Department is working on the design. We have asked them to harmonise it with the architecture of the university buildings," he said.
Other heritage buildings situated in the riverside campus of the university include 19th century-built Darbhanga House, home to the postgraduate department; Minto Hostel, Jackson Hostel and Iqbal Hostel of the Patna College; the VC Residence (earlier residence of Patna College Principal) and the Patna Medical College and Hospital (erstwhile Prince of Wales Medical College).
A special centenary logo has also been launched, the design borrowed from the interlaced letters 'P' and 'U' emblazoned on the door panels of the Wheeler Senate House. The numeral 100 with the two zeroes interlooped to form the infinity symbol, sits at the centre, signifying the university's journey towards infinity.
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