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Music legend Pandit Jasraj passes away at 90

NEW DELHI, Aug 17: Indian classical vocalist Pandit Jasraj passed away at the age of 90 on Monday. He died of cardiac arrest at his house in New Jersey state of US.

He had turned 90 in January this year. One of India’s greatest music legend, Jasraj, who belonged to the Mewati Gharana, was in the US when the country went into lockdown due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

“With profound grief we inform that Sangeet Martand Pandit Jasraj ji breathed his last this morning at 5.15 EST due to a cardiac arrest at his home in New Jersey, USA,” his family said in a statement.

With musical career spanning over 80 years, Pandit Jasraj was awarded with honours such as Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan.

“We pray that his soul rests in eternal musical peace. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers,” the statement, issued on behalf of the family and students of the Mewati Gharana, further read.

Expressing his condolences on the demise of the legendary singer, PM Narendra Modi tweeted, “Not only were his renditions outstanding, he also made a mark as an exceptional mentor to several other vocalists.”

The music legend is survived by daughter Durga Jasraj and son Shaarang Dev Pandit.

Poet Rahat Indori passes away

INDORE, Aug 11: Noted Urdu poet Rahat Indori, who had tested positive for coronavirus, passed away at an Indore hospital on Tuesday after suffering two heart attacks, said doctors treating him. He was 70.

“He suffered two heart attacks today and could not be saved. He was admitted to hospital on Sunday, after testing positive for Covid-19. He had 60% pneumonia,” said Dr Vinod Bhandari of Sri Aurobindo Hospital.

Indori’s Twitter bio describes him as “Indian Poet, Painter, Bollywood Lyricist”.

Before he checked himself into the hospital for treatment, the poet had tweeted about being coronavirus positive, asking people to pray for his quick recovery. He further asked people to not call up either him or his home to enquire about his health. He had said they will be getting updates through Twitter.

With a 50-year career in poetry, Indori, an Urdu scholar of great repute, was one of the biggest mushaira (poetry symposiums) stars in the country and someone who fearlessly called a spade a spade.

Among the poet’s most powerful lines are “Sabhi ka khoon hai shamil yahan ki mitti mein; Kisi ke baap ka Hindustan thodi hai (Everybody’s blood mingles in the soil; Hindustan does not belong solely to one)”. The lines were used on posters and banners during the anti-CAA protests, pushing him to almost cult status.

Earlier this year, his poem “Bulati hai magar jane ka nahi” went viral on social media, making him a sensation among the youth. Memes using the poem’s opening lines flooded social media during Valentine’s Day.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi mourned the passing of “Indori Sahab” with a couplet.

Historian and author Rana Safvi termed the poet’s death a “huge huge loss to a fearless voice and to the world of poetry”.

In fellow poet Gulzar’s view, Indori was the soul of a mushaira. “Mushaira loot ke le gaye is a saying in Urdu. Toh Rahat saab mushairon ke lootere the (he stole the thunder at symposiums),” said Gulzar.

Lyricist-writer Javed Akhtar called Indori’s death “an irreparable loss” to contemporary Urdu poetry and society at large.

“Like Habib Jalib, he was from the fast disappearing tribe of poets who are never short of courage to call a spade a spade,” Akhtar said.

Lyricist Varun Grover called him a “rockstar of the Indian literary world” and prince of the “mushaira” tradition.

Indori wrote the lyrics of several songs, including “Chori Chori Jab Nazrein Mili” from Kareeb, “Koi jaye to le aye” from Ghatak , and “Neend Churai Meri” from Ishq.

Mississauga city council allows broadcasting of Hanuman Chalisa, Gayatri Mantra

TORONTO, Aug 11: A city in Canada has made history by permitting local temples to broadcast sacred Hindu hymns during an auspicious period as regular worship remains impacted by restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Regular rules relating to noise bylaws disallow places of worship from using loudspeakers. However, the city of Mississauga’s council voted unanimously to relax those norms and let temples broadcast hymns like the Hanuman Chalisa or Gayatri Mantra. Mississauga lies in the Great Toronto Area and is in the province of Ontario.

The city council had earlier not taken a decision on the matter and referred it to the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee or DIAC, which thereafter voted in support of temporarily easing the noise bylaws. The matter returned to the city council abided by the DIAC’s decision, with all members voting in favour of the motion. Among its supporters was city Mayor Bonnie Crombie.

This matter had been moved by the Hindu Forum Canada which sought permission for temples to broadcast from August 11 to September 1, for five minutes each evening at 7 pm. It had argued that this period was particularly significant for Hindus as it included Krishna Janmashthami, Onam and Ganesh Chaturthi.

Among the original proponents of the measures was Indo-Canadian councillor Dipika Damerla, a former provincial Minister, who described it as a “small ask.” After the motion’s passage, she said she was “very happy” that this accommodation had been put in place for the religious group.

Proponents have argued that the restrictions due to the coronavirus crisis have affected the faithful especially seniors.

In fact, in April this year, many municipalities in Canada, including Mississauga, made an exception for the month of Ramzan, as restrictions similarly impacted Muslims in the country.

With a precedent in place, an apex Indo-Canadian organisation has called upon cities to give similar permission to mandirs in the province of Ontario and beyond. The Canada India Foundation or CIF argued that to “be able to listen to the holy hymns and participate while being restricted to individual homes, is expected to act as a morale booster to the community.”

Its chair Anil Shah underscored this argument, as he said, “We are in full agreement with the request to the various municipalities for accommodation regarding these religious events. This would be a great gesture that would strengthen our multicultural fabric even more.”



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