Pandit Birju Maharaj, a Kathak great, died late Sunday at his residence in Delhi after suffering a heart attack. He was 83 years old. One of India’s best-known performers, he was also a recipient of the country’s second-highest civilian award, Padma Vibhushan.
Pt. Birju Maharaj, according to sources, was playing with his grandsons late on Sunday night when his health deteriorated. After he fell unconscious, he was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Know More About the Legend and his Achievements
Birju Maharaj was a master vocalist who could do Thumri, Dadra, Bhajan, and Ghazal. He was a brilliant storyteller, weaving episodes from his life into his performances in order to engage the audience. Furthermore, he was intensely observant, and usually had something to say about everyday events, amusing those around him with realistic impersonations and colourful descriptions. President Ram Nath Kovind expressed his condolences to Pandit Birju Maharaj’s family and followers, saying that his death marked the end of an era.
At the age of thirteen, Maharaj began teaching Kathak at the Sangeet Bharti in New Delhi. He then went on to teach at the Bharatiya Kala Kendra in Delhi and the Kathak Kendra (a unit of the Sangeet Natak Akademi), where he was Head of Faculty and Director until 1998. After retirement, he started his own dance school, Kalashram, in Delhi.
Panditji also wrote and sang the music for two dance sequences in Satyajit Ray’s Shatranj ke Khilari, as well as choreographing the song Kaahe Chhed Mohe from the 2002 film adaptation of the story Devdas.
Several notable figures have come forward to express their condolences at the demise of the legend.
“Deeply saddened by the demise of Pandit Birju Maharaj Ji, who gave Indian dance a special recognition world over. His passing is an irreparable loss to the entire art world. My condolences to his family and fans in this hour of grief,” said PM Narendra Modi, expressing his condolences.
Nirmala Sitharaman, the Finance Minister, called the performer a “legend of performing arts”. His pupils and legions of followers affectionately referred to him as Pandit-Ji or Maharaj-Ji, and he once observed that the younger generation has many more possibilities to study than he did.