Indian classical music has lost a voice. An era has come to end with the sudden demise of noted Indian classical singer, ‘Thumri Queen’, Girija Devi fondly called fondly known “Appa ji”.She was 88.
Born in a zamindar family at a village near Banaras on 8 May 1929, Girija Devi had taken up classical music in the very early age. An exponent of Thumri, Tappa, Chaiti, Kajri, Hori, Tarana, Sadra and other forms of Hindustani classical music, Girija Devi was groomed in the tradition of the Benaras and Seniya gharanas. She had made her public debut on All India Radio Allahabad in 1949.
She was conferred with all three Padma awards. Girija Devi was conferred with Padma Shri in 1972, Padma Bhushan in 1989 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2016. She also received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship.
Girija Devi was not keeping well since long, she was suffering from various old age related ailments. On Tuesday afternoon, Girija Devi was admitted to BM Birla Hospital in Kolkata in a critical condition after suffering a cardiac arrest. Girija Devi breathed her last around 9 pm.
Noted musician and vocalist Rashid Khan said, “She was so full of warmth, I always saw her like a mother. I am deeply shocked to hear the news. I recall the special moments I have shared with her on tours and at home”.
Eminent vocalist Pt. Ajoy Chakraborty recalled his association with Girija Devi and said, “I cannot believe the news, everybody called her ‘Appa ji” while I used call her ‘Amma’. I cannot believe that ffrom tomorrow I won’t be meeting her. I know she will fill with music where ever she is. I am loss of words”. From musicians to her disciples and numerous admirers began reaching her residence to pay their last respects.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has tweeted to mourn the demise of Girija Devi. West Bengal Chief Minister Banerjee has also paid her tributes to Girija Devi. She recalled that her government had conferred the Sangit Mahasamman and Bangabibhushan awards on the singer in 2012 and 2015 respectively.
The state government has made arrangements for people to pay their last respects. Her body will be kept at Academy on Wednesday.
Her mortal remains will be consigned to flames on the banks of River Ganges (Ganga) Thursday in Varanasi.