Located in the narrow lanes of Pasand Bagh, the mazaar, which had fallen into neglect, has been newly restored by the non-profit Sanaktada, under the supervision of Delhi-based architect Ashish Thapar.
"There wasn't even a plaque in her memory," said Madhavi Kukreja of Sanatkada. "Nothing to mark her presence in the city."
In 2012, on the initiative of Begum Akhtar's oldest living disciple, Shanti Hiranand, and scholar and writer, Salim Kidwai, the Ministry of Culture gave a small grant for the grave's restoration.
Last year, Shruti Sadolikar presented the first musical tribute at the newly restored mazaar. "There was limited space. Not more than 40 people could sit. But that didn't matter to Shruti," said Kukreja. "She was singing for the Begum, not for us."
Last year's tribute was held on October 30, Begum Akhtar's death anniversary. But this year, it has been moved to October 7 to mark her birth centenary. "Another reason we avoided October 30 this year was that Muharram falls at the end of the month," said Kukreja. A musical evening could be considered inappropriate during the period of ritual mourning. "But in the years ahead, we would like to make the shraddhanjali on October 30 an annual affair."
For the annual remembrance, and for the year-long upkeep of the grave, Sanatkada has appealed to the citizens of Lucknow and the fans of the begum to pitch in with donations. A Facebook page has been created, which says, "We hope the citizens of the city will come forward to take ownership of (the grave). The site will have to be maintained and it is their responsibility to keep it in a state that is befitting of the dignity of the great artist."
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