Condolences pour in mourning 'Queen of Thumri' Girija Devi's demise
Kolkata: Hundreds of music lovers and artistes bid a tearful adieu to thumri queen Girija Devi, fondly known as Appa ji, whose mortal remains were kept at the lobby of Sangeet Research Academy (SRA) on Wednesday.
One of the last exponents of the Banaras gharana of thumri passed away on Tuesday at the Birla Heart Research Institute in Kolkata. She had been ailing with several health problems for some time. She was 88.
Her mortal remains will be flown to Varanasi where her final rites will be performed on Thursday.
Condoling her death, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee tweeted: "Girija Devi's death is a great loss to the music world. We were honoured to confer her with Banga Bibhushan in 2015."
Indranil Sen, Minister of State for Information and Cultural Affairs went to SRA to pay his last respect. Vocalist Rashid Khan added: "Girija Devi will be remembered for many years for her devotion, dedication and simplicity." Sarod player Tejendranarayan Mazumdar said: "She was last of the great classical artistes who had guided and inspired those of the present generation who will carry forward her legacy. I have grown up listening to her music and will always remember her pleasing personality."
Singer Lata Mangeshkar posted a picture of herself with Girija Devi and tweeted: "Mahan shastriya aur thumri gayika Girija Devi ji hamare bich nahi rahi ye sunke mujhe bahut dukh hua. Hamare unke bahut acche sambandh the."
Classical instrumentalist Pt Debojyoti Bose, who was a close to her, said: "Seniormost artist of Benaras Gharanas Bidushi Girija Devi is no more. All the artistes of Indian classical music will miss her".
Issuing a statement, the ITC deeply mourned her death and mentioned that a deep void in Indian classical music has been created because of the maestro's sad demise.
Vidushi Girija Devi was an ITC Sangeet Research Academy Guru. A legend in her lifetime, her music has vastly enriched the tradition of Hindustani classical music and enthralled music lovers across the globe. Championing the legacy of ITC-SRA's celebrated Guru-Shishya Parampara, she passionately pursued teaching music till her final days and helped preserve her rich musical heritage through her students.
The government of India bestowed on Vidushi Girija Devi three of the highest civilian awards — Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and the Padma Shri. She also received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship. The Postal Department honoured the musical maestro by featuring her on a postal stamp. In 2003, she was conferred the ITC Samman for her unparalleled contribution to the field of Indian classical music.
Right from its inception in 1977, she was one of the key flagbearers of ITC-SRA's larger Vision to nurture and propagate the priceless heritage. She was dearly loved and admired for her magnetic personality, lively sense of humour, colourful Benarasi Hindi speech and instant connect with every individual.
At ITC-SRA, Vidushi Girija Devi symbolised the true relationship between the guru and the shishya by nurturing an eternal bond of trust, knowledge, continuity and the sheer celebration of art's universal glory.
"I am deeply saddened to hear about the demise of Vidushi Girija Devi. Acknowledged as a legend in the field of Hindustani classical vocal music, she has over the years enthralled audiences in India and across the world with her exemplary performances. My sincere condolences to her family, her disciples and millions of music lovers. May her soul rest in peace;" said Y C Deveshwar, Chairman, ITC Ltd.
"Vidushi Girija Deviji leaves behind a huge void both in the world of Hindustani classical music and ITC Sangeet Research Academy. Her rich legacy will continue to inspire musicians across all genres and the contributions she leaves behind at ITC Sangeet Research Academy will continue to guide our scholars for many years to come. I express my deepest condolences to her family members, shishyas and the very large number of grieving admirers she leaves behind," said Sanjiv Puri, CEO and Executive Director, ITC Limited.