Kathak maestro Pandit Birju Maharaj passed away, PM expressed deep grief

Mumbai : The recipient of the country’s second-highest civilian award, Padma Vibhushan, and legendary Kathak dancer, Pandit Birju Maharaj has passed away at the age of 83 early Monday after suffering a heart attack. He was reportedly suffering from a kidney ailment, and was on dialysis treatment. He was admitted to Saket Hospital in New Delhi. He contracted Covid a few days ago and had a heart attack on Monday morning.

He was fondly called Pandit-ji or Maharaj-ji by his disciples and legions of followers and was one of India’s best-known artistes. Maharaj was born into a Hindu Brahmin family at Handia of Allahabad district, in the house of Kathak exponent, Jagannath Maharaj, popularly known as Acchan Maharaj of Lucknow gharana, who served as court dancer in Raigarh princely state. Birju was trained by his uncles, Lachhu Maharaj and Shambhu Maharaj and his father, and he gave his first recital at the age of seven. On 20 May 1947, his father died when he was nine. He was also a singer par excellence, having command over Thumri, Dadra, Bhajan and Ghazal.

Maharaj started teaching the dance form at the age of thirteen, at the Sangeet Bharti in New Delhi. He then taught at the Bharatiya Kala Kendra in Delhi, and at the Kathak Kendra (a unit of the Sangeet Natak Akademi) where he was Head of Faculty, and director, retiring in 1998 after which he opened his own dance school, Kalashram, also in Delhi. He composed the music, and sang, for two dance sequences in the Satyajit Ray’s Shatranj ke Khilari, and choreographed the song Kaahe Chhed Mohe from the 2002 film version of novella Devdas.

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has expressed deep grief over the passing away of legendary Kathak dancer Pandit Birju Maharaj. The Prime Minister has also said that his passing is an irreparable loss to the entire art world.

In a tweet the Prime Minister said;

“भारतीय नृत्य कला को विश्वभर में विशिष्ट पहचान दिलाने वाले पंडित बिरजू महाराज जी के निधन से अत्यंत दुख हुआ है। उनका जाना संपूर्ण कला जगत के लिए एक अपूरणीय क्षति है। शोक की इस घड़ी में मेरी संवेदनाएं उनके परिजनों और प्रशंसकों के साथ हैं। ओम शांति!”

He was awarded respective in 1964 – Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, in 1986 Padma Vibhushan, Nritya Choodamani Award by Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, Kalidas Samman (1987), Lata Mangeshkar Puraskar (2002), Honorary doctorate from Indira Kala Sangeet Vishwavidyalaya, Honorary doctorate from Banaras Hindu University, Sangam Kala Award, Bharat Muni Sammaan, Andhra Ratna, Nritya Vilas Award, Adharshila Shikhar Samman, Soviet Land Nehru Award, National Nritya Shiromani Award, Rajiv Gandhi National Sadbhavana Award. And he was honoured in National Film Award for Best Choreography for Unnai Kaanaathu (Vishwaroopam) (2012), Filmfare Award for Best Choreography for Mohe Rang Do Laal (Bajirao Mastani) (2016). Courtsey : PIB & wikipedia

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