Google on Wednesday celebrated the 102nd birth anniversary of shehnai maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan with a doodle. The sketch depicts Khan playing the shehnai against the backdrop of a geometric style pattern. One of India’s most famed musicians, Khan was born in Bhirung Raut Ki Gali, what is known as Bihar today, to a family of musicians. When he was born, his grandfather apparently exclaimed ‘Bismillah’ upon seeing him, thus giving him the name. In subsequent years, he was honoured with the name Ustad (master). He started playing in public when he was 14. However, it was his performance at the All Indian Music Conference in Kolkata in 1937 that brought him fame across the country. Khan has performed at the Edinburgh Music Festival as well, which helped take his music to a global audience.
India’s declaration of independence from Red Fort in 1947 and the creation of the Indian republic in 1950 were heralded by Khan’s shehnai. Even today his music is played during Republic Day celebrations. He was a recipient of the Bharat Ratna (2001), Padma Bhushan (1968), Padma Vibhushan (1980) and the Padma Shri (1961).
“Even if the world ends, the music will still survive… music has no caste,” is one of his famous quotes. Khan died on August 21, 2006.