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Home » Featured » Remembering Girija Devi: India’s Queen of Thumri, fondly called ‘Appa Ji’

Remembering Girija Devi: India’s Queen of Thumri, fondly called ‘Appa Ji’

She had performed in Delhi about a month before his last visit. No one thought he was hearing this world class voice of Banaras Gharana for the last time. Even though the face was signed by experience, his enthusiasm as a functor was ageless.

By Newsd
Published on :
The journey of ‘Thumri Queen,’ Girija Devi!

On this day, 24 October 2017 in Kolkata, Thumri queen Girija Devi passed away forever. Known as the Queen of Thumri, Girija was a well-known face in the world of music. His fans used to affectionately call him Appa ji.

She had performed in Delhi about a month before his last visit. No one thought he was hearing this world class voice of Banaras Gharana for the last time. Even though the face was signed by experience, his enthusiasm as a functor was ageless.

He was accompanied by his disciple Dr. Rita Deb in that program. Recalling that day, Rita Deb tells that it was not felt that her entire life had been spent singing this thumri, Dadra and Hori. Riyaz used to do like any new artist and used to lift and drop every song with rhythm.

The specialty of famous Thumri queen Padmavibhushan Girija Devi was to immortalize the words of every genre with her singing. Not only thumri, khayal, tappa, tarana, sandra also became sanjeevani music in his voice.

Hori, Chaiti, Kajri, Jhula, Dadra and Bhajans sung by him in traditional folk music still fascinate people. While Girija Devi was also a visiting professor at BHU, her disciple Manju Sundaram also adorned this position. Manju Sundaram also got a chance to learn thumri from Appa ji from around 1963.

Appa ji had divine power:

Manju Sundaram, a noted singer among his senior most disciples, says that whatever I learned from Appa ji, I have tried to pass it on to my disciples. It was the generosity that he gave me in ecclesiastical music that gave me direction and vision.

For about 10-12 years, she used to do Riyaz for two hours every day with Appa ji and her entire time was mine. She says that watching Appa ji doing riyaaz and singing was like drinking nectar.

His disciple Dr. Rita Deb, who was associated with Appa ji from about 1989, says that Appa ji had divine power which I feel even today despite his absence. She was my guru, mother, and goddess. Now call it good luck or something, I was with Appa ji as his colleague in his last concert.

His last concert was the Thumri Festival in New Delhi in September 2017 and I was with him during that time. Rita Deb says that during Riyaz, there was a different energy if Appa ji was sitting in front during the performance on stage. She says that if anything happens, he used to call her and ask. Now I miss all these things a lot.

She says that in 2015, when I got a chance to perform at the Tansen festival, Guru Maa was very happy. Was very encouraged, said that it is a big deal to participate in such a big event at such a young age. BHU’s Prof. Sangeeta Pandit says that we got to learn a lot from Appa ji while being a visiting professor at BHU. There was something new to learn every day in his singing.

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