PATNA: Indian railways is giving a unique tribute to Shehnai maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan who was born and brought up in a small town in Bihar before he settled in Varanasi.
Khan was born in Dumraon town of western Bihar’s Buxur district, and as a tribute to this great musician, the railways is erecting a big picture of the shehnai maestro on the wall of the Dumrao railway station.
For the past two months, the artists are giving finishing touches to his picture which has now become a centre of attraction for the passengers as well as the passersby.
In the photograph, the late musician is seen wearing his trademark cap tilted to one side of his head and playing shehnai which brought him global fame and eventually earned him India’s highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna in 2001, thus becoming only third musician after MS Subbulakshmi and Ravi Shankar to be accorded this rare honour.
Apart from that, the railways’ train announcement system has also been playing Khan’s memorable, heart-touching shehnai tunes in between its announcements for train arrivals and departure from the station, refresheneing old memories.
But, the Passengers’ Welfare Committee (PWC) is still not satisfied with the railways’ initiatives and wants more.
“Just erecting a picture of such great musician on the station wall in not enough, his life size statute too should be placed in the station campus,” demanded PWC president Rajiv Ranjan Singh.
Khan was born as Qamaruddin Khan on March 21, 1916 in a traditional Muslim family of musicians in Dumraon town where he passed his early childhood days.
He was the second son of Paigambar Baksh Khan and Mitthan. His grandfather Rasool Baksh Khan exclaimed “Bismillah” at his birth and Qamaruddin Khan came to be known as Bismillah Khan.
According to locals, Bismillah Khan’s ancestors were court musicians and used to play in Naqqar khana in the princely state of Dumraon.
His father was a shehnai player in the court of Maharaja Keshav Prasad Singh of Dumraon. When he was barely six or seven, Bismillah moved to his maternal grandfather’s home in Varanasi.
His uncle, Ali Baksh ‘Vilayatu’, a shehnai player attached to Varanasi’s Kashi Vishwanath Temple, was his guru.
Two Bihar chief ministers and a host of politicians have promised to develop Bismillah Khan’s birthplace but beyond tokenism, there has been nothing concrete on the ground, local residents rue.
Image courtesy: Social Media