Ustad Bismillah Khan, Tipu Sultan, Gundadhur and Bhupen Hazarika remembered for their immense contributions

From legendary freedom fighters to contemporary music maestros, four of the 12 States that participated in the 65th Republic Day celebrations at Rajpath here had regional icons featured prominently in their parading tableaux.

A huge gathering along Rajpath was awed by larger than life figures of world-renowned shehnai player and Bharat Ratna Ustad Bismillah Khan, former Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan and celebrated music maestro Bhupen Hazarika. Also in the mix was the legendary revolutionary Gundadhur who spearheaded the Bhumkal freedom movement in Chhattisgarh.

From the highly sophisticated military equipment, the spellbound audience was taken to the calmer and serene mornings of Varanasi via the first State tableau from Uttar Pradesh.

With Ustad Bismillah Khan’s giant figure depicted on its fore, the U.P. tableau moved towards India Gate. Recorded tunes of shehnai once played by the maestro filled the air, reminding people of Varanasi’s favourite son. The Ustad is not only remembered for his mesmerising tunes but is also seen as a symbol of inter-faith harmony in the State which, in the recent past, has witnessed fierce communal riots.

The next icon to be featured in a State tableau was Tipu Sultan. He was depicted on the front portion of the tableau with a sword in his hand while the rear displayed various episodes of his life. This included his pioneering use of rocket technology in the Anglo-Mysore battle and the tragic surrender of his two sons for war indemnity.

This was followed by Gundadhur — a tribal, who, like Tipu — took on the mighty British Empire. Gundadhur organised and influenced fellow tribals in the Bastar region to raise their voice against the British rulers trying to redesign the tribal pattern of life. The tableau had glimpses of the struggle between Gundadhur’s men and the British forces. The men armed with spears and arrows attacked British officials and defeated them at many places. Perhaps not as widely known outside his native Chhattisgarh as within it, Gundadhur has a college and the State’s most prestigious Sports awards named after him.

The Assam tableau celebrated the life and times of legendary musician Padma Vibhushan Bhupen Hazarika. Dr. Hazarika, who passed away in 2011, was a lyricist, musician, singer, writer, poet and film-maker. The tableau in the front featured Dr. Hazarika playing the harmonium. Another bust of his sitting on a boat sailing along the Ganges was placed in the rear.

Quite fittingly, the song played in the background was Dr. Hazarika’s famous ‘Ganga’. As the voice from the “Bard of Brahmaputra” posed a few questions to Ganga, what flowed were memories from a melodious past.