Apart from keeping the traditional Kathak alive through his live performances, Pandit Birju Maharaj gave us some classics from Devdas to Bajirao Mastani.
The legendary dancer who will always shine as the face of Indian classical dancing, Pandit Birju Maharaj passed away at the age of 83 on Monday. The Kathak maestro was at his home in Delhi and the news of his death was confirmed by his granddaughter.
According to reports, Maharaj-ji, as he is fondly known among his disciples was suffering from kidney ailments and was undergoing dialysis treatment at his home. He fell ill and was taken to the hospital but a possible cardiac arrest may have caused his passing, said his granddaughter Ragini Maharaj. It was not long ago when his nephew and disciple Pt Munna Shukla passed away following a brief illness at 78.
Maharaj-ji who has contributed immensely in the field of Indian Kathak belonged to the well-known Kathak dancing family, Lucknow Gharana of Kathak. He has worked with generations blowing everyone’s mind with his extraordinary ways of presenting the classical art form. He was able to enable female performers to receive the same recognition as their male counterparts by creating productions. And all his works have been duly recognized with him being a recipient of the country’s second-highest civilian award, Padma Vibhushan. One of his disciples Nandkishore Kapote was able to put together a book, titled Nritya Samrat Pt. Birju Maharaj, that highlights some of the major works along with anecdotes from his life.
People showed their respects on Twitter:
Thank you for your priceless contribution, Pandit Birju Maharaj! You will be missed.