The year-long birth centenary celebrations of noted classical singer Begum Akhtar began on Tuesday with the government bringing out commemorative coins and announcing musical programmes in various cities to popularise the legendary Hindustani vocalist’s singing and ghazals.
Union Culture Minister Shripad Yasso Naik inaugurated the celebrations here at a programme attended by people from various walks of life who acknowledged Begum Akhtar “as the pioneering woman she was in her times, as a feminist icon, as someone who broke the glass ceiling many times over in her life”.
After releasing her birth centenary commemorative coins of Rs 100 and Rs 5, Naik said his ministry has taken steps to strengthen the tradition Begum Akhtar represented in her life and to remember her contribution to the world of Indian music.
Over the next one year, music festivals have been planned in several cities in collaboration with state governments to commemorate her life and achievement, the government said.
Music programmes will be held in Mumbai, Chennai, Varanasi, Goa, Hyderabad and Bangalore.
The government also announced a scholarship programme which will be given to one student per year from Sangeet Natak Academy in order to support and pursue music and facilitate their career.
Begum Akhtar, born on October 7, 1914 in Faizabad, Uttar Pradesh, had her training in Hindustani classical music with Ata Mohammad Khan of the Patiala gharana and Abdul Wahid Khan of the Kirana gharana and made her debut at the age of seven.
She was well known for her singing of ‘thumri’ and ‘dadra’, in which she had combined both the ‘poorab’ and the Punjab styles with a characteristic flavour of her own.
Her rendering of ghazals was of a rare quality.
The birth centenary celebrations offer an opportunity to pay homage to everything that Begum Akhtar stood for – sacrifice, art, love, poetry, and the rigour of ‘taleem’, government said.
Begum Akhtar died on October 30, 1974.