Girija Devi’s rendition of a timeless thumri

A friend sent me this beautiful piece rendered by Girija Devi of the Benaras school of music.

She has been described as the last living queen of thumri. Her father Ramdeo Rai was a local Zaminadar and interested in classical Indian music. He initiated his daughter’s musical training when she was five years old. Her gurus were Pandit Sarju Prasad Mishra and Shrichand Mishra.

Found this useful background on Thumri here

This tragic Thumri was composed by Nawab Wajid Ali Shah of Awadh who wrote under pen-name Qaisar and “Akhtarpiya”. This was the twilight of Mughal rule and the British exiled him to Calcutta. It is said that this forced departure from Lucknow inspired this thumri:

babul mora naihar chuuto hi jaaye
chaar kahaar mil, mori Doliiyaa uthaaye
more apanaa begana chhuTo hi jaaye
anganaa to parbat bhaye, dehlii bhayi bides
je baabul ghar aapano, mai chali piya ke des

Here is the translation – courtesy – Bhirgu

O father, I depart forcibly from my home
Four men gathered to lift my palanquin {see the wedding/funeral analogy here?}
my loved ones will become strangers
the innermost portals of my home will be unreachable
as I leave my father’s home and go to my husband’s country.

Other than Girija Devi, K. L. Saigal sang this thumri in raag Bhairavi (here).

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