Birju Maharaj, a living legend of Kathak who had just been diagnosed with kidney failure and placed on dialysis, died late Sunday at his home. He was 83 years old when he died. Maharaj ji, as he was known, was believed to be playing with his grandchildren when his health suddenly deteriorated, necessitating his being brought to the hospital, where he died of a heart attack. Swaransh Mishra, his grandson, revealed the sad news in an Instagram post.
Maharaj ji, the son of Acchan Maharaj, was also a gifted Hindustani classical vocalist and drummer. Shambhu Maharaj and Lacchu Maharaj, two of his uncles, were well-known. Padma Vibhushan, the country’s second highest civilian honour, was bestowed upon him.
Bollywood actress Kareena Kapoor took to her Instagram to mourn the loss of one of the greatest Kathak legends. Sharing a picture of Panditji, she wrote, “Rest In Peace.”
Veteran actress Hema Malini also took to her Instagram account to express her grief over Panditji’s sudden demise. She wrote, “The nation mourns te loss of a true legends, Shri Birju Maharaj, Kathak exponent par excellence. His ghungroos were on his ankles till he breathed his last. I always admired and respected him as a giant of the medium of Kathak and will miss his presence on the firmament of dance.”
Adnan Sami, one of the first artistes to pay his tributes to the doyen of Kathak, said in a tweet: “Extremely saddened by the news about the passing away of Legendary Kathak Dancer Pandit Birju Maharaj ji. We have lost an unparalleled institution in the field of the performing arts. He has influenced many generations through his genius. May he rest in peace.”
Many other Bollywood personalities also mourned the Kathak’s legend demise.