‘Lambi hek di mallika’ folk singer Gurmeet Bawa dies in Amritsar
- Gurmeet was among the first female artists to perform for Doordarshan
- Her husband encouraged Gurmeet to take up singing
- She created a record of a 45-second long 'hek' in Georgia
Renowned Punjabi folk singer Gurmeet Bawa died on Sunday at an Amritsar hospital. Popularly known as ‘lambi hek di mallika’, she was 77 years old.
Gurmeet was admitted to hospital on Saturday after she complained of weakness. Her husband Kirpal Bawa, also a folk singer, said, “She was feeling weak. She had no health issues earlier and had been performing till three days ago.”
Gurmeet was among the first female artists to perform for Doordarshan. She was best known for her 45-second long ‘hek’ (the alaap during the opening of a song), considered the longest by any Punjabi folk singer.
Gurmeet Bawa was born in 1944 at Kothey village in Batala town of Gurdaspur district to parents Uttam Singh and Ram Kaur. She wanted to be a teacher and cleared the JBT test. She was among the first women teachers from her area.
In 1968, she got married to Kirpal Bawa, a Punjabi folk singer from Dera Baba Nanak. The couple had three daughters, of whom Lachi and Galori became singers.
Her husband encouraged Gurmeet to take up singing as a profession. She proved her mettle in the Punjabi music industry with her rendition of ‘Jugni’.
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Gurmeet set the trend of a long 'hek' before starting a song. She created a record of a 45-second long 'hek' in Tbilisi, capital of Georgia, during the International Art Festival in 1987 where artists from 18 countries had performed.
Ravjot Kaur, an associate professor from Kapurthala who did her Ph.D. on folk songs, said Gurmeet was probably the first singer who went door to door in Punjab’s villages to gather music.
While talking to Ravjot Kaur about her 45-second long 'hek' Gurmeet said, “Suddenly there were thunderous claps…I kept singing…I don’t know when it got so long. When we stepped out of the venue, a woman came running and said `Ma'am, you are great. Your ‘Ho… (hek) was 45 seconds long…’.”
A few of Gurmeet's famous songs are ‘Liade chamba, lavan ghare de kol’, ‘Kaharo doli na chayao', and 'Mera babal aya ni’.
Her ‘Ghorian’ (Punjabi wedding songs) and ‘Mirza’ (a song portraying the saga of Mirza-Sahiba), were also very popular.
Gurmeet was bracketed with legends of Punjabi folk music like Parkash Kaur and Surinder Kaur. She received the ‘Rashtrapati Puraskar’ by the Bharti Sangeet Natak Akademi. She has received the Shiromani Gayika Award by the Punjab Language Department, National Devi Ahilya Award, and the state award by the Punjab government, among others.
Many Punjabi film and music personalities and politicians condoled Gurmeet's death.