ObituarySindhis Beyond Sindh

Remembering Lajja Bhatia

Lajja ji was not only known for her music but also for her social work and invaluable contribution for Sindhyat.

Lajja Bhatia, who passed away on April 19, 2020, was a distinguished Sindhi singer. She spent her lifetime serving the Sindhi community primarily in and around Delhi.

Milind Teckchandani

We were in the fifth week of a nationwide Lockdown in India to prevent the spread of deadly Corona Virus. The last few weeks had turned life upside down for most of us (not just in India but across the world). All economic activity has almost come to a standstill and in a developing country like ours, making ends meet is proving to be a challenge for vast majority of the population. The Sindhi migrant refugees are also finding it difficult to sustain themselves during these times when there are limited/no opportunities to earn a daily living. Most of these lower middle class families left Sindh to escape religious persecution. Recently, I was pleased to see a Sindhi Association in Delhi initiating a fund collection to supply food grains and daily essentials to around 40 such migrant families staying in Jahangirpuri in North East Delhi. These families need support and patronage from all of us to establish themselves here. As Daddy always says “Asaan hik be ji maddad n kanda seen te ker kando! (If we (Sindhis) don’t help each other then who will).  I am glad to note that over the past couple of years, there has been a perceptible positive change in the attitude of general public towards Pakistani refugees. If you come across a refugee family, please do extend your support to them during this hour of need.

This week also saw the unfortunate demise of Kum. Lajja Bhatia, a distinguished Sindhi singer who spent her lifetime serving the Sindhi community primarily in/around Delhi. For many decades, she was the resident singer at all events of Sindhu Samaj, Delhi diligently conducting the Aarti and singing Lal Saeen Palav each Friday and on important festive occasions. A committed student of legendary Motihar Brothers (Dada Kan and Dewan), she often accompanied them on musical tours both in India as well as abroad. Dada Bhaneja fondly remembers that in most of Dada Dewan’s duet songs, she was the lead female singer. She was also a part of the “trio” in the two USA/Canada musical tours that Motihar Brothers held. She passed away on 19th April, 2020 due to an illness, few months short of her seventieth birthday.

(L-R) Shyam Khubchandani*, Kan Motihar*, Lajja Bhatia*, Sugumal Bhaneja*, Dewan Motihar*

Mummy was saddened to hear about Aunty Lajja’s death. She remembered the first interaction with her which was in early 1990s when aunty had come to our home to enquire about the challenges involved with managing a Kidney failure patient on Dialysis. Upon hearing from a neighbor that my grandfather had undergone (prior to his demise) Dialysis for Kidney Failure at Batra Hospital, she decided to speak with daddy/mummy as her father had also been advised of the same. Dialysis in late 80s/early 90s in India was a difficult procedure due to lack of enabling healthcare infrastructure.

I last saw aunty a year and a half ago when she spent some time chatting with mummy on a sunny winter afternoon at our home while visiting the Ahuja family who stay right opposite us.

Bhatia-Lajja 23
(L-R) Hari Raheja, Kan Motihar*, Dewan Motihar* and Lajja Bhatia*

Lajja aunty was a true karmayogi who dedicated her life to serve the community. In order to preserve our cultural heritage and roots, everyone needs to play their part and Lajja aunty played this role to perfection. We owe it to individuals like her in helping us connect with our heritage and for keeping Sindhi boli alive through music and literature. I pray to Lal Saeen to rest her soul in peace.

I am sharing a couple of photographs from the Ottawa Tour in 1985. The musical evening was organized by Ottawa Sindhi Association and Dada Balwant Bhaneja has been kind enough (as always) to permit me to share these with all of us.

This tribute will be incomplete without me sharing a link to Aunty Lajja’s rendition of the classic  ” Dama Dam Mast Qalandar” at Jhule Lal Chaliha Evening at Sindhu Samaj in 2016.

Watch the Video: Dama Dam Mast Qalandar 

Smt. Rita Tulsaney, has written a wonderful tribute for her beloved friend (Late) Lajja Bhatia on Facebook, which is as follows:-

A tribute to Ms. Lajja Bhatia (5.11.1950-19.4.2020)

India and the Sindhi society of India has lost a great Sindhi singer in Ms. Lajja Bhatia on 19.4.2020. She breathed her last day before yesterday after a prolonged illness of about a year. Her melodious Sindhi music will always be remembered.

Lajja ji was not only known for her music but also known for her social work and invaluable contribution for Sindhyat.

I being an active member of the Sindhi Samaj was fortunate to have long conversations with her over the phone for the last few years and got to know a lot about her during this journey i lived with her.

She was an active Member of the Sindhi Academy for quite some time. She was a great supporter of Sindhi students desirous of joining the civil services. In fact, she had for a long period of time, let out a part of her Rajinder Nagar house to Sindhi girl students preparing for civil services, Rajinder Nagar being the hub of coaching centers for civil services just for Sindhiyat to grow in our wonderful country.

Lajjaji had mentioned that she was instrumental in starting a creche for working parents at the Sindhi Samaj, Rajinder Nagar New Delhi. She supervised the operations of the creche every day for a number of years…maintaining hygiene, cleanliness etc. as small children were involved. It was simply out of love for children.

She encouraged young talent with a deep sense of involvement. She trained them with full dedication. A small instance of her regular participation and the way she was well versed with everything around her is by remembering about a couple of years back my son Tanay Tulsaney along with his partner Vaibhav Sharma was getting an award as a young successful entrepreneur at the Constitution Club of India by the Minister for Industry, Lajja ji managed to reach there in spite of strict security restrictions to encourage him. She always encouraged Tanay to sing as she had heard him sing and seen his performances on YouTube and treated my son as an extended family member.

Shall always remember with gratitude for her preparing Behrana Sahib at our residence, on the occasion of Cheti Chand Celebrations of IPEX Sindhi Welfare Association Delhi, and blessing us all with her prayers. She encouraged Sindhi culture and that was the first time many of us got to see the preparation of Behrana Sahib.

Lajja ji was a student of the renowned Sindhi musicians Kan Motihar and Dewan Motihar. She had performed both nationally and internationally. Was the Asst. Music Director of the famous Sindhi film Ammi Ya Mummy. Given background music for several Sindhi plays directed by the legend of Sindhi drama Late Shri Jeevan Gursahney.

Lajja ji will always be remembered as a Legend of Sindhi Music.

Rita Tulsaney

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Courtesy: Sindhi Chokro Blogs (Published on April 24, 2020)

 

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