Ustad Bismillah Khan, "A Symbol of India's Religious Pluralism," Passes Away

August 21, 2006

Source: BBC News

On August 21, 2006 BBC News reported, "Ustad Bismillah Khan was one of India's most prolific musicians, gaining worldwide acclaim for playing the shehnai for more than eight decades. He was credited with helping the shehnai - a type of wind instrument - attain a higher status in Indian classical music and taking it to a world stage. It had earlier considered to be an accompanying instrument. In 2001, he was awarded India's highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna. The shehnai is traditionally played at Indian weddings and ceremonies and its high-pitched notes and heart-tugging sound are considered auspicious. A devout Muslim, Khan was a symbol of India's religious pluralism and a symbol of harmony for people of different faiths. He was often seen playing at various temples and on the banks of the holy river Ganges in the northern Indian city of Varanasi, his home town. He was particularly proud of playing outside the famous Vishwanath temple in Varanasi."