About Girija Devi and Thumri

About Girija Devi

  • She was an eminent Indian classical vocalist representing the Benaras gharana.
  • She was proficient singer of different genres of Hindustani vocal music like Khyal, Thumri, Dadra, Chaiti and Kajari.
  • She is known as the ‘Queen of Thumri’.



  • She was a genius in her sphere of Indian classical vocal rendition.
  • She had been felicitated with the Padma Shree (1972), Padma Bhushan (1989) and Padma Vibhushan (2016), which are among the highest civilian awards of India.
  • The Tansen award named after Tansen (one of the nine gems in the court of Emperor Akhbar) was also conferred to her.



  • It is a Hindustani classical music.



  • It originated in the Eastern part of Uttar Pradesh, mainly Lucknow and Benares, around 18th century AD.
  • It was believed to be first patronised in the court of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah of Lucknow.
  • It was developed by the famous musician Sadiq Ali Shah.



  • It is believed to have influenced by Hori, Kajri and Dadra popular in Eastern Uttar Pradesh.
  • Some people consider that an older musical presentation called ‘chalika'(described in the Harivansha), to be the precursor of Thumri.



  • It is a romantic and erotic style of signing.
  • The song composition is based on the romantic-devotional literature inspired by the bhakti movement.
  • The text is usually derived from the Radha-Krishna theme and is of primary importance.


Style of singing

  • The songs are usually sung in slower tempo, giving more importance to the lyrics with short alaps.
  • They are composed in lighter ragas and have simpler talas.
  • It is primarily a vocal style of romance music written from the perspective of the woman and sung in a literary dialect of Hindi called Braj Bhasha.
  • The songs are generally written in Braj Bhasha, Khari Boli and Urdu.



  • A Thumri recital typically consists of one or two male/female vocalists accompanied by sarangi and/or harmonium, tanpura and tabla.



  • There are three main gharanas of Thumri:
  1. Benaras
  2. Lucknow
  3. Patiala


Eminent personalities

  • Qadar Piya, Sanad Piya, Lallan Piya, Kenwar Shyam, Nawaj Wajid Ali Shah are well known Thumri singers of the Lucknow Gharana.
  • Rasoolan Bai, Siddeshwari Devi and Girja Devi are exponents of the Benaras style of Thumri.
  • Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan was one of the most famous singer who belonged to the Patiala gharana.
Section : History & Culture