September 30, 2022

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Birju Maharaj: Kathak Dance Legend Dies At 83

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India’s second-highest civilian award, ‘Padma Vibhushan’ recipient, Pandit Birju Maharaj died at his home in Delhi late Sunday after suffering a heart attack. Kathak legend Pandit Birju Maharaj was 83.
He was fondly called Pandit Ji or Maharaj Ji by his disciples and legions of followers and was one of India’s best-known artists.

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The Kathak exponent had also been suffering from a kidney ailment and was under dialysis treatment.

“He was with us when this happened. He had his dinner and we were playing ‘antakshari’ because he loved old music. He was lying down… and suddenly his breathing became uneven. We think it was cardiac arrest as he was also a heart patient.

“This happened between 12.15 and 12.30 am. It must have been just a minute or so. We rushed to the hospital but unfortunately, we could not save him. He died before reaching the hospital,” Birju Maharaj’s granddaughter Ragini, a Kathak dancer herself, said to the news agency.
“Two of his disciples and his two granddaughters, my younger sister Yasyashashwini and me, were with him when this happened. He was laughing and smiling in his last moments,” she added.

Birth Name: Brijmohan Nath Mishra

Birth Date: 4 February 1938

Handia, United Provinces, British India
(present-day Handia, Uttar Pradesh, India)

Died: 17 January 2022 (aged 83)

Delhi, India

Pandit Birju Maharaj was an Indian dancer, composer, singer and exponent of the Lucknow “Kalka-Bindadin” Gharana of Kathak dance in India. He was a descendant of the Maharaj family of Kathak dancers, which includes his two uncles, Shambhu Maharaj and Lachhu Maharaj, and his father and guru, Acchan Maharaj. He also practised Hindustani classical music and was a vocalist.

After working along with his uncle, Shambhu Maharaj at Bhartiya Kala Kendra, later the Kathak Kendra, New Delhi, he remained head of the latter, for several years, till his retirement in 1998 when he opened his own dance school, Kalashram, also in Delhi.

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