| Students of Suniti academy at the process in front of the Cooch Behar palace. Picture by Himangshu Ranjan Deb
Cooch Behar, Feb. 7: The 125th anniversary celebrations of Suniti Academy here began today with a colourful procession, flagged off by state forest minister Jogesh Burman.
The celebration of the school ' a pioneering institution for women's education ' will continue till February 10 amid cultural shows and sports competitions. Rajya Sabha member Tarini Roy, local MLA Dipak Sarkar and district magistrate Ravi Inder Singh were present at the ceremony today.
'Suniti Academy has been carrying forward the cause of women's education not only in the district but across entire Bengal ever since it was founded in the erstwhile princely state of Cooch Behar,' Burman said after flagging off the march.
'We have been maintaining a high standard of education and our girls feature regularly on the merit list of the Madhyamik and higher secondary exams,' said Bhupali Roy, the headmistress of the school. 'We shall strive hard to keep up the rich tradition.'
A stone bust of Maharani Suniti Devi, the founder of the school, has been installed on the premises of the institution to mark the occasion. 'We will have exhibitions on different subjects like science, literature, geography, history and fine arts in the next four days,' Roy said. 'Our students will also stage plays in both English and Bengali as part of the celebrations.'
She said the only damper is that Maharani Gayatri Devi would not be able to attend the programmes. 'I had called on her in Jaipur and she had promised to be here. But now, she is apparently not keeping well and therefore cannot travel so far,' Roy said.
The school was set up in 1881 by Maharani Suniti Devi, the daughter of Brahmo reformist Keshuv Chandra Sen. Suniti Devi was married to Maharaja Nripendranarayan of Cooch Behar.
'Women's education improved by leaps and bounds under the guidance of Suniti Devi,' said historian Nripen Pal.
'At a time when Hindu women used to stay behind purdah, the Maharani arranged for the palace cars to ferry the students from home to school and back. In an effort to avoid any controversy, even those cars had curtains on the windows,' Pal said.