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Kolkata bids adieu to classical music icon Girija Devi

Kolkata, Oct 25 (IANS) Eminent musicians, artistes and filmmakers here on Wednesday bid a tearful adieu to late Indian classical music icon Girija Devi, observing the legend passed away “like a queen”.

The ‘Queen of Thumri’ and “Appaji” as she was lovingly called by her admirers and disciples, died on Tuesday at a private hospital here following a cardiac arrest. She was 88.

Her mortal remains were brought at the ITC Sangeet Research Academy (SRA) here for the public to pay homage. Her last rites would be performed on Thursday in Varanasi.

“There was no change in ‘sur’ even though she was 88. Her vocal prowess remained the same even till her last days. She was extremely affectionate,” said National Award winning filmmaker Goutam Ghose after paying his last respects to the veteran at the SRA auditorium.

Sarod maestro Pandit Tejendra Narayan Majumdar noted her love for life and people reflected in her musical pursuits.

“She loved life and loved people and her singing reflected that sentiment. That’s why she died like a queen, surrounded by everyone’s wishes and love,” Majumdar said.

The Padma Vibhushan singer played a key role in popularising and raising the profile of thumri, that gave her the appellation ‘Thumri Queen’.

Celebrated faces from the music fraternity such as singer Indranil Sen and vocalist Ustad Rashid Khan offered wreaths and garlands and recalled their experiences with the thumri exponent.

After formation of the ITC Sangeet Research Academy in Kolkata in 1978, the Varanasi-born Girija Devi shifted base to the eastern metropolis after prodding from the institute’s then director Vijay Kichlu.

She immediately fell in love with the city.

“There is a deep love for music and culture. The musicians get lot of respect. The boys and girls are very keen learners. But studies take up so much of their time, they hardly have any free time to practise. In contrast, we used to practise for five/six hours,” she had once said.

Girija Devi had been a Guru for over a decade at the SRA, after which she was a visiting professor at the Banaras Hindu University. She rejoined the organisation in 2003.

The SRA in a Facebook post said: “Her association with SRA from its inception leaves us with innumerable moments and memories which have inspired her thousands of disciples, millions of followers and the entire music fraternity, forever. We pray for the eternal peace of her soul. Her music, spirit and invaluable guidance, which we have all been fortunate enough to witness and receive, shall always remain with us.”


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