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Chicagoans pay tribute to late Pandit Birju Maharaj

Chicagoans pay tribute to late Pandit Birju Maharaj
January 28
13:10 2022
Late Pandit Birju Maharaj Ji

Late Pandit Birju Maharaj Ji

Geetha Patil

CHICAGO: The Hindu Mandir of Lake County, Grayslake, and IL, I-RADHA – Indian Rhythms Arts & Dances Heritage Academy jointly organized a Shanti Path Puja for the Legendary Kathak maestro Padma Vibhushan Pandit Birju Maharaj on Saturday, January 22, 2022.

More than hundred followers and devotees of his dance and music brilliances and wisdoms attended the program and offered their honest tributes to him by observing the COVID-19 guidelines and social distancing.

Pandit Birju Maharaj (4 February 1937 – 17 January 2022) was an Indian dancer, composer, singer and the champion of the Lucknow “Kalka-Bindadin” Gharana of Kathak dance in India. He was born in a family of Kathak dancers, which includes his two uncles, Shambhu Maharaj and Lachhu Maharaj, and his father and guru, Acchan Maharaj. He was also an accomplished vocalist of Hindustani classical music especially thumri, Dadra, Bhajan and Ghazal. He played instruments like the tabla and the dholak.His Kathak performances in addition to mythological stories had contemporary elements including stories from daily life and social issues being communicated through the dance.

He worked at Bhartiya Kala Kendra and Kathak Kendra, New Delhi. He served as the head of Kathak Kendra until his retirement in 1998 and later he opened his own dance school, Kalashram in Delhi. He received honorary doctorates, many well-known national awards for his performances and choreographies in Indian films. His children Deepak Maharaj, Jaikishan Maharaj, Mamta Maharaj, Anita Maharaj and grandchildren are ardently continuing their father’s and family legacy.

Prayer for Late Birju Maharaj by all attendees

Prayer for Late Birju Maharaj by all attendees

Ms. Kiran Chouhan founded I-RADHA Indian Rhythms Arts & Dances Heritage Academy in June 2016 in memory of her mother Mrs. Radha Chouhan. Kiran Chouhan is the President and Artistic Director of I-RADHA. She is an accomplished Kathak dancer and a “Ganda-Bandhit” disciple of the legendary Kathak maestro Pandit Birju Maharaj. She received her initial training at Delhi’s Kathak Kendra under the guidance of Smt. Reba Vidyarthi. Then Pandit Birju Maharaj trained her to become an accomplished Kathak dancer and teacher. The purpose of I-RADHA is to teach, advance and spread the teachings of the rich Indian heritage that all of us appreciate and emulate in everyday lifestyles all over the world. Kiran Chouhan is very passionate about continuing his legacy as his dedicated student.

Pt. Anil Joshi performed Shanti Pujan and Gayatri Havan for resting his soul in peace. Speakers, Kiran Chouhan, Raj Deshmukh, Kamal Gupta, and Vandana Jhingan paid their tribute by remembering their special acquaintances with him, his services, performances and many of his humane qualities.

Pt. Joshi said that that we have lost not only a jewel of India but also an unmatched institution in the field of the performing arts. It is an irreparable loss to the entire art world. He has motivated many generations through his breathtaking skills. He also described the meaning of Guru Mantra, “Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu, Guru Devo Maheshwara; Guru Sakshat Param Brahma, Tasmai Shri Guravay Namah”. He said that since Guru leads us to a path of light, Guru is the embodiment of Para Brahma who is supreme to our trinity (Lord of Creation, Lord of organization, Lord of destruction) so we all bow to that Guru.

Shanti Path for Birju Maharaj

Shanti Path for Birju Maharaj

After Shanti Path, Pt. Joshi Ji thanked and blessed every one for their happy and prosperous lives. Temple kitchen team served Maha Prasad was to the all the guests, devotees and volunteers.

 

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