The Padma Awards, namely, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri, are amongst the highest civilian awards of the country.
Celebrated author and theatre personality Balwant Moreshwar alias Babasaheb Purandare — who is renowned for his scholarly works on Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj — completed 99 years, here on Thursday.
A host of leaders starting from Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena President Raj Thackeray, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, state Bharatiya Janata Party President Chandrakant Patil, Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis, and top leaders of various political parties, litterateurs and others warmly greeted Purandare.
Raj Thackeray drove down to the home of the ‘Shiv Shahir’ (Shivaji’s Bard), as he is popularly known, kneeled on the floor and touched the feet of the Padma Vibhushan laureate Purandare.
At a felicitation function later, organized by Maharashtra Education Society and Itihaas Premi Mandal, Purandare, known for courting controversies, recalled some anecdotes of his childhood years and expressed a desire to live a few more years to serve society.
A group of women created a gigantic 300-sq. feet ‘rangoli’ and lit symbolic 99 lamps, performed his ‘aarti’, honoured him with the customary shawl, and greeted him on the momentous occasion as Purandare looked on with cheerfully.
Born on July 29, 1922, at Saswad near Poona (now, Pune), Purandare was fascinated by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj from an early age and wrote essays and stories which were later published in a book form, ‘Thinagya’ (Sparks).
Over eight decades of his writing and theatre career, Purandare delivered more than 12,000 lectures on Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, studied all the forts and history of the Maratha Empire, making him an authority on the subject.
He penned and directed a historical play ‘Jaanta Raja’ (1985) a theatrical magnum opus performed by over 200 artistes, translated and enacted in five languages, and has clocked over 1,250 stage shows in Maharashtra, Goa, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, and the USA.
Among his prominent works are the monumental two-volume “Raje Shivchhatrapati”, “Jaanta Raja”, “Maharaj”, “Shelarkhind”, “Gadkot Kille”, “Agra”, “Lal Mahal”, “Purandar”, “Rajgad”, “Panhalgad”, “Sinhagad”, “Pratapgad”, “Purandaryanchi Daulat”, “Mujaryache Mankari”, “Fulwanti”, “Savitri”, “Kalawantinicha Sajja”,
He was conferred the ‘Maharashtra Bhushan’ (2015) and the country’s second-highest civilian honour ‘Padma Vibhushan’ in 2019.