Did you know Shehnai Maestro’s real name was Qamaruddin Khan?

Last update: August 21, 2022, 07:30 HST

A stamp shows Ustad Bismillah Khan. (Image: Shutterstock)

Bismillah Khan’s dream to perform at India Gate and pay homage to the brave martyrs of the earth was his dying wish. Sadly, that would remain a dream as he never got the chance to do it.

ANNIVERSARY OF THE DEATH OF BISMILAH KHAN: The famous musician Ustad Bismillah Khan can be considered the face of the very popular musical instrument – Shehnai. Born in a small village in 1916 in Dumraon, Bihar, he always had the musical sting in him. His father, Paighamber Bux Khan, could be credited with inspiring Bismillah’s love of music as he himself was a court musician to the King of Bhojpur.

Both of his grandfathers were also musicians. After creating music for over seven decades, he breathed his last on August 21, 2006 in Varanasi, where he has spent most of his life.

On his death anniversary, here are some lesser-known facts about the Shehnai Maestro:

  1. His last wish remained unfulfilled
    Her dream to perform at India Gate and pay homage to the brave martyrs of the earth was her dying wish. Unfortunately, it would remain a dream because he never had the opportunity to do so.
  2. His real name was Qamaruddin Khan.
    It is said that his grandfather, delighted with the birth of his grandson, thanked Allah and recited Bismillah as a prayer. As a result, his chosen birth name was changed to Bismillah (meaning: in the name of God).
  3. It was part of India independence
    He was invited by India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to play the Shehnai in celebration as he hoisted the flag of independent India for the first time ever at the Red Fort. He also performed during India’s first Republic Day, and his music is still performed today.
  4. Cinematic connection
    His talents were not limited to the world of classical music. He acted in several Bollywood and Kannada movies like Goonj Uthi Shehnai (1959) and Sanaadi Appanna (1977). He also participated in the Cannes Film Festival.
  5. No religious borders
    Bismillah was a known devotee of Goddess Saraswati who is considered to be the Goddess of Arts and Knowledge. He also performed several raagas devoted to Hindu deities.
  6. two wives
    Ustad Khan got married at the age of 16 to his wife. But he was so in love with his instrument that he was known to call it a “wife”.

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