Anoushka claims she is the first Indian musician to get a planet named after her, not Pt Jasraj
It’s a celebratory moment for India that a minor planet was named after eminent Indian classical musician Pandit Jasraj by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) recently. While multiple reports are stating he is the first Indian musician to get the honour, sitar player and composer Anoushka Shankar claims she received a similar honour back in 2017, courtesy an astronomer.
An Italian astronomer, Vincenzo Silvano Casulli, had named an asteroid after Anoushka, daughter of the late sitar exponent Ravi Shankar. Confirming this, Anoushka says from London, “An individual astronomer named a (minor) planet after me... I don’t want to get into a hullabaloo about who was first, especially with a senior musician, but it is true that a planet was named after me back in January 2017.”
As minor planet discoveries are confirmed, they are given a permanent number by the IAU’s Minor Planet Center (MPC). According to the MPC, the asteroid named after Anoushka is called Asteroid 292872 Anoushankar.
She recalls, “I got a letter from an astronomer at that time saying he discovered a (minor) planet and because he was a big fan of my music, he named it after me. He sent me a very sweet letter along with a certificate.”
Anoushka even met the astronomer. “On one of my shows, I met him backstage and told him I was very honoured and that it was a very unusual and sweet thing to happen. That was it.”
To her, it “just seemed like a lovely thing”, and so she says she didn’t really talk about it.
“Well, I just didn’t think about it as being something too much at that time. I just thought it was very lovely. It is brilliant that Pandit Jasraj has also had a planet named after him. Maybe we can start a new trend,” she quips, adding a “congratulations” to the 89-year-old Pandit Jasraj.
And the Grammy-nominated musician is proud of the inroads Indian music has made across the world over the years. “I think it’s an interesting time now to have a career in music. On one side, it is easier to reach an audience than ever before, but on the other side, there is so much music available that it can be very hard to not get lost in there. So, when you are in any kind of niche music, that’s not quite in the mainstream, it can be quite difficult,” Anoushka adds.
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