Pandit Birju Maharaj may not have been physically present this year in the “Vasant Utsav” which has been going on for the last twenty four years, but his presence was definitely there! It was a wonderful experience to see the footprints of Maharaj ji even for the regular visitors of Delhi. Nashik resident Kathak dancer Vidya Deshpande’s efforts proved to be phenomenal, which will now be an inspiring heritage for Kathak students — has been established in New Delhi’s Kalashram Gurukul.
In fact, Kathak dancer Pt. Birju Maharaj had specially come to attend a function of Abhijat Nritya Sangeet Academy, Nasik, run by Vidya Deshpande, during his “Amrit Mahotsav Prashant”. Yatin Pandit, husband of Vidya ji’s senior disciple Preshita Pathak Pandit and prominent sculptor of Nashik, got the idea why not to follow the footsteps of the Kathak King. Maharaj ji also gave approval for this innovation. In this way, those marks for that time became a reality in the form of footprints after his death!
The three-day Vasant Utsav organized in New Delhi was held from April 20 to 22, 2022 for the first time without Maharaj. Of course he was not there, but his footprints were. It was unveiled at the beginning of the festival in the presence of Jaikishan Maharaj, Deepak Maharaj, Mamta Maharaj, Shashwati Sen and Vidya Deshpande. This year’s event was organized as a tribute to Pt. Birju Maharaj, Pt. Rajan Mishra and Pt. Shubhankar Banerjee. Sangeet Rasikas welcomed the footsteps with thunderous applause. It was also kept for three days in the Kamani auditorium itself. After that “Kalashram” located at Gulmohar Park was established. The father of this hypothesis – Vidya Deshpande who himself was Pt. Birju is one of the senior most disciples of Maharaj ji says in her sentiments – this is a proud moment for her institution and the musical world of Nashik. “Kalashram” is the Gurukul of Maharaj ji where now those footprints will be safe forever.