A larger than life image of the country's most admired music maestro, Mohammad Rafi, conjures up in the minds of music aficionados, especially on his birth and death anniversaries that fall on December 24 and July 31 respectively.
As a result, more than 9,000 functions are held in the region and the world over to pay tribute to Rafi, who had to his credit almost 5,000 songs including 4,516 Hindi film songs, 112 non-Hindi film songs and 328 non-film songs in Indian and foreign languages.
Though the compelling charm of his mellifluous voice has never failed to reverberate in the hearts of music lovers, it gained more popularity during the past 32 years, after his demise in 1980. However, as is the case with musical geniuses, Rafi's great legend is destined to be an invincible eternal power.
Celebrating this with religious regularity is Chandigarh-based Yaadgar-e-Rafi society, established in 1986. This year, on August 11, they are set to organise the 54th tribute at Tagore Theatre, Sector 18. President of the society, BD Sharma, says that the scale of the celebration is such that it has been graced by Bolly-wood's leading celebrities, such as actors Vyjayan-thiwala, Shatrughan Sinha, Asha Parekh, music director OP Nayyar and film lyricist Hasrat Jaipuri, besides Rafi's wife, Bilquis Rafi, and one of his sons, Shahid Rafi.
However, the lifeline of many of their performances is said to be the brother duo of Raman Kant, an engineer, and Arun Kant, a doctor, with the former flying from Toronto for the live programme.
In other Punjab cities, such as in Patiala, the Ramgarhia Cultural Council holds a function in Rafi's remembrance on July 31, which is entwined with charity, wherein products such as sewing machines, books and blankets are distributed to the destitute.
Led by a known vocalist, Paramjit Singh Parwana, society members also feel Padam Shri Rafi should have been awarded a Bharat Ratan.
Amritsar's Sohal Group of Arts also pays a tribute to the celebrated singer every year through their function, Talash-e-Rafi, at the Art Gallery. The event, which took place on July 29 this year, is recorded by Zee TV to be telecast later. Harinder Sohal, a singer and music composer, runs the studio, and says that they also perform at Kotla Sultan Singh, Rafi's native village that is 16 km from Amritsar.
Artistes who claim allegiance to the group said they would appreciate if a befitting memorial to the singer was put up in the primary school where he studied, in the place of his statue put up there.
Meanwhile, the Haryana government has been regularly paying rich tributes to the legendary singer at their annual cultural function celebrated since the past seven years.
Bhal Singh Balhara, additional director of cultural affairs, Haryana government, who is also a Haryanvi film director and actor, believes that Rafi's music will enrapture music lovers for centuries to come.
For their musical function scheduled for today, they have chosen as many as 15 singers selected from Haryana to perform before a 3,000-strong crowd at Maharshi Dayanand University, Rohtak, informs Balhara.