Kathak legend Sitara Devi was cremated on Thursday at the Banganga crematorium in Walkeshwar in Mumbai. There was a gathering at the family apartment at Napean Sea Road before friends and relatives of the family proceeded to perform the last rites.
Devi passed away on Monday due to multiple organ failure at the age of 94. The funeral however had to be delayed because Devi’s son, composer-producer Ranjit Barot was touring abroad. Barot cancelled his concerts to reach Mumbai today and led the rituals.
The danseuse, considered to be one of the greatest practitioners of the kathak, touched the lives many and it was visible at the funeral. From her students to the owner of the neighbourhood music shop, the quiet and small gathering saw a number of personalities from the world of dance and music in attendance.
These included Hindustani classical musician Ghulam Mustafa Khan, percussionist and composer Taufiq Qureshi, composers Ehsaan Noorani, Loy Mendonsa, singer Kunal Ganjawala and choreographer Sandip Soparrkar. Soparrkar said,”Unlike most classical dancers I know, Sitara Devi was always warm and welcoming. Although I come from a different genre of dance we connected through our shared love for dance. No award will ever be enough to measure her contribution to dance.”
Others in attendance included actors Dolly Thakore, Neelima Azeem, Prithvi Theatre trustee Kunal Kapoor and BJP politician Vinod Tawde.
Devi was admitted to Jaslok hospital over a month ago, and was taken to the ICU on November 17. “She was active, even taking classes before she fell ill. However, we were prepared for this when she was taken to the ICU,”said Vishal Krishna, Devi’s grandnephew and youngest student, who could not hold back his tears.
Ganjawala, a close friend of Barot, who knows Devi for the past 18 years said,”She lived it up till the end. Even when she was frail she would even joke with her students who would visit her at the hospital, that they are late for her dance class. We are not mourning her death but celebrating her life.”