Article published in The Hindu
Legendary Kathak dancer Birju Maharaj died at his home here in the early hours of January 17, his granddaughter said. He would have been 84 next month.
Maharaj-ji, as he was popularly known, died surrounded by his family and disciples. They were playing ‘antakshari’ after dinner when he suddenly took ill, Ragini Maharaj told PTI.
Birju Maharaj, one of India’s best known and most loved artistes, was from Lucknow’s Kalka-Bindadin Gharana. He is survived by five children, three daughters and two sons, and five grandchildren.
He had been suffering from a kidney ailment and was under dialysis treatment for the last month due to high diabetes. He probably died of a cardiac arrest, his granddaughter said.
“He was with us when this happened. He had his dinner and we were playing ‘antakshari’ because he loved old music. He was lying down… and suddenly his breathing became uneven. We think it was cardiac arrest as he was also a heart patient.
“This happened between 12.15 and 12.30 a.m. It must have been just a minute or so. We rushed to the hospital but unfortunately, we could not save him. He died before reaching the hospital,” Ragini Maharaj said. Ragini Maharaj, a Kathak dancer herself, said the only solace for the family is that he did not suffer too much in his last moments.
“Two of his disciples and his two granddaughters, my younger sister Yasyashashwini and me, were with him when this happened. He was laughing and smiling in his last moments,” she said.
Condolences poured in as news of the death of the Kathak maestro, who would have been 84 on February 4, came in.