Legendary Tagore singer and Rabindra Sangeet exponent Rezwana Choudhury Bannya was awarded with “Padma Shri”, the India’s fourth highest civilian award for her distinguished service in the field of Art.
The award was announced for the year 2024 on Thursday on the eve of India’s Republic Day, according to a statement issued by Indian ministry of home affairs last evening.
The eminent Tagore singer Bannya also won numerous awards including Bangladesh’s highest civilian award-the Independence Day Award in (2016).
Padma Awards, one of the highest civilian Awards of India, are conferred in three categories, namely, 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.
The list comprises 5 Padma Vibhushan, 17 Padma Bhushan and 110 Padma Shri Awards. 30 of the awardees are women and the list also includes 8 persons from the category of Foreigners and 9 posthumous awardees.
Born in Bangladesh’s Rangpur district in 1957, Bannya took her early singing lessons from her uncle Abdul Ali that continued later under the tutelage of Sanjida Khatun and Atiqul Haque at Chhayanaut and Bulbul Academy of Fine Arts (BAFA) in Dhaka.
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 took lessons from eminent Rabindra singers Kanika Bandyopadhyay, Nilima Sen, Sailajaranjan Majumdar, Santidev Ghosh, Gora Sarbadhikary, Manju Bandyopadhyay and Asesh Bandyopadhyay.
Years after receiving her master’s degree from Visva-Bharati, she trained under Kanika Banerjee in private sessions for an extended period of time. In 2021, she completed her research on Rabindra Sangeet at the University of Dhaka, for which she received the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Currently Professor and founding chair of the Department of Dance at the University of Dhaka, previously, she had been a professor in the Department of Music at the same university.
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.