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Pranaam Appa: Book On Padmavibhushan Girija Devi Released By Governor

Rita Bhimani

At a function held at the ICCR on Monday 7th May, the Governor of West Bengal, Shri Keshari Nath Tripathi released a coffee table book that was helmed by Bimla Poddar and Jnana Pravaha, founded by her on the banks of the Ganges in Varanasi to propagate Indian culture in its quintessence. Conceptualized, curated and authored by Supriya Newar, this book is a celebration of the life of Padmavibhushan Girija Devi, the Queen of Thumri, whose passing a few months ago created a huge void in the world of classical music. It is an compilation of anecdotes from leading classical musicians, vocalists, percussionists, dancers, and a large section from the Neotia-Poddar family of reminiscences spanning three generations. Following the opening remarks of Harshavardhan Neotia, Chairman of the Ambuja Neotia Group, whose family have been “indebted to her for her guidance, benevolence and love”, and who has been responsible for bringing out the book on behalf of Jnana Pravaha and Mrs Bimla Poddar, other senior musicians shared their memories of Girija Devi, They included Pandit Vijay Kichlu, Pandit Ajoy Chakraborty and Ustab Rashid Khan, apart from Girija Devi’s daughter Sudha Dutta. Mrs Bimla Poddar, who has been closely associated with Girija Devi for over four decades, shared some wonderful anecdotes, including the fact that she had become a shishya at the latter’s biding, of how Gulab Bari had evolved and delved into the many unsung aspects of “Appaji”. In a special gesture, an ashtdhatu statue of Maa Ganga which had been made in the atelier of Jnana Pravaha, was presented to each of the guests present by Bimla Poddar.