INDIA’s Thumri Queen Girija Devi Is No More

October 25th, 2017 | by eBangla Bureau
INDIA’s Thumri Queen Girija Devi Is No More


GIRIJA DEVI, doyen of Banaras Gharana and eminent vocalist  known as   Thumri queen  in music world , has passed away in a private hospital in Kolkata .Varanasi born Girija Devi, who had settled in Kolkata, expired on Tuesday at the age of 88 and survived by a daughter. Her demise came as a big shocker to the music lovers of her birth place .She was fondly known as Appaji and would visit the ancient temple city. Devi was born in Varanasi on 8 May 1929  to Ramdeo Rai, a zamindar who played  harmonium and taught music and encouraged  Devi to  take lessons in singing Khyal and Tappa from vocalist and Sarangi player Sarju Prasad Misra  at the age of five. She starred in the movie Yaad rahe aged nine and continued her studies under Sri Chand Misra in a variety of styles. She was married to a businessman, who passed way in 1975..”It is an irreparable loss to Indian music and Banaras Gharana of music. She was a guiding figure for us,” said noted Sarod player and Yash Bharati recipient Pt. Vikash Maharaj. “She was ailing for some time, and admitted to BM Birla Hospital in Kolkata in the morning. She left for the heavenly abode in the evening,” he said adding that she had been living in Kolkata with her daughter.”No one can fill the void created due to her demise. Even at 88, her scintillating voice could leave the audience spell bound. She was perhaps the last exponent of Thumri, Tappa, Chaiti and Khayal. I heard her singing in an award ceremony in New Delhi on August 27,” said Ashok Kapoor, founder of a cultural organization Kala Prakash working for the cause of Indian music. Girija Devi, the legendary singer of the Banaras gharana, had received Padma Shri in 1972, Padma Bhushan in 1989 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2016. She was born in a village near Varanasi on May 8, 1929. She had performed widely across the country and abroad. Born in a respectable Hindu family, she had to face several hurdles to sing in public.

She took lessons in singing Khayal and Tappa from vocalist Sarju Prasad Misra in early childhood. She worked as a faculty member of the ITC Sangeet Research Academy, Kolkata, in the 1980s and of the Banaras Hindu University during the early 1990s. She was a prominent performer of Purabiang Thumri style of Banaras Gharana. . 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.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also expressed condolences at Girija Devi’s passing away.”Saddened by demise of Girija Devi ji. Indian classical music has lost one of its most melodious voices. My thoughts are with her admirers,” PM Modi tweeted soon after hearing the sad news.”Girija Devi ji’s music appealed across generations. Her pioneering efforts to popularise Indian classical music will always be remembered, PM Modi added. Singers Shubha Mudgal, Pankaj Udhas and Bengali actor Prosenjit Chatterjee have also joined countless mourners and  paid tribute to Girija Devi.

Girija Devi was an Indian classical singer of the Seniya and Banaras Gharanas. She performed classical and light classical music and helped elevate the profile of Thumri. Her albums are Bhajan: Sant Gyan, Purab Ang – The Spirit Of Benaras.Besides Padma Vibhushan, she was honoured with Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for Hindustani Music – Vocal.

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