Legendary Tagore singer Bannya wins ‘Padma Shri’

Rezwana Choudhury Bannya, a renowned vocalist from Tagore and a master of Rabindra Sangeet, received the “Padma Shri,” India’s fourth highest civilian honor, in recognition of her exceptional contributions to the arts.

According to a statement released by the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs this evening, the prize for the year 2024 was revealed on Thursday, the eve of India’s Republic Day.

The distinguished Tagore vocalist Bannya was also the recipient of other honors, including the Independence Day Award (2016), the highest civilian honor in Bangladesh.

One of India’s highest civilian honors, the Padma Award, is given out in three categories: Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan, and Padma Shri.

President of India Droupadi Murmu has approved conferment of 132 Padma Awards this year. These Awards are conferred by the President of India at ceremonial functions to be held at Rashtrapati Bhawan in March or April.

There are 110 Padma Shri Awards, 17 Padma Bhushan Awards, and 5 Padma Vibhushan Awards on the list. Thirty of the recipients are female, and the list also contains nine posthumous recipients and eight foreign recipients.

Born in 1957 in the Rangpur district of Bangladesh, Bannya had her first instruction in singing from her uncle Abdul Ali. Later, she studied at the Chhayanaut and Bulbul Academy of Fine Arts (BAFA) in Dhaka, where she was taught by Sanjida Khatun and Atiqul Haque.

Then she received a scholarship from the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) to study in Sangit Bhavana at Santiniketan, the university that was founded by Tagore himself.

She studied with renowned Rabindra vocalists like as Asesh Bandyopadhyay, Nilima Sen, Gora Sarbadhikary, Santidev Ghosh, Kanika Bandyopadhyay, and Sailajaranjan Majumdar.

She studied in private sessions for a long time with Kanika Banerjee, years after graduating from Visva-Bharati with a master’s degree. She obtained a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Dhaka in 2021 after completing her study on Rabindra Sangeet.

She was a professor in the University of Dhaka’s Department of Music before becoming the founding chair and professor of the department of dance.

Bannya, a trailblazer in promoting Rabindranath Tagore’s music, has founded “Shurer Dhara”, a prestigious music school in Dhaka in 1992 with a focus on promoting Ranbindra Sangeet.

In 2022, the government launched a dedicated website preserving 5,000 songs by Bannya, complemented by a comprehensive biography and photographs.

During her career in the field of music, Bannya won numerous awards including the prestigious Independence Day Award for her contribution in the field of art and music.

The other awards that she won included Ananda Sangeet Puroshkar for being the best female Rabindra Sangeet artist (2002), Gaane Gaane Gunijon Shongbardhona (2011), Sangeet Samman Puroshkar from the Ministry of Culture, India in 2013, Banga Bhushan (2017), Firoza Begum Memorial Gold Medal (2017), Sangeet Maha Samman (2017) by the Government of West Bengal, Doctorate of Arts honoris causa from Asian University for Women (2019) and Lifetime Achievement Award conferred by Oikko.com.bd Channel i.

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