Nawab Wajid Ali Shah (1822-1887)

  • To honour the bicentenary of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, the last sovereign of Awadh, an exhibition, heritage walk, and discourse will be conducted in Kolkata.
  • Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, also known as Mirza Wajid Ali Shah, was the eleventh and final King of Awadh, ruled from 13 February 1847 until 11 February 1856.
  • He is known as a poet, writer, dancer, and patron of the arts who contributed significantly during his reign.

Fall and reign

  • Wajid Ali Shah ascended to the throne of Awadh in February 1847, taking over at a period of decline for the country.
  • British Annexation: On 11 February 1856, just two days before the ninth anniversary of Wajid Ali Shah’s coronation, the British East India Company seized Awadh. He was then deported to Garden Reach in Metiabruz, near Kolkata, where he lives on a pension.

Patron of the Arts

  • Wajid Ali Shah was a rich patron of music as well as a talented composer. He developed the Lucknow Gharana of Kathak dance and improved the light classical form of thumri. He wrote ghazals and established new ragas, leaving an indelible mark on Hindustani music.
  • Wajid Ali Shah’s sponsorship of Kathak dancing enhanced it in Lucknow. He placed a strong emphasis on artistic expression, including drama, passion, and literature. The king popularised Kathak as a court dance and made it available to the general public.
  • The king developed the Jogia Jashan, a magnificent pageant, and presented Rahas (dance-dramas) packed with poetry, poetic compositions, and Kathak performances. His works established the groundwork for the growth of Hindustani theatre.

Literary Interests

  • Prose and Poetry: Wajid Ali Shah was a famous Persian and Urdu writer. His writings addressed a wide range of topics, including history, literature, and personal observations. “Huzn-i-Akhtar,” an autobiographical composition, and “Bani,” a treatise on music and dance, are two notable pieces.
  • Writers’ Patronage: The monarch supported several poets and writers at his court, notably Mirza Ghalib. He provided pensions to famous literary people and fostered the creation of works that mirrored the culture and life of the day.

@the end

  • The last King of Awadh, Mirza Wajid Ali Shah, reigned from 1847 to 1856 before being banished.
  • His support for the arts, especially music, dance, drama, and literature, left a lasting effect on Awadh’s cultural legacy.
  • Wajid Ali Shah’s artistic endeavours and long legacy continue to inspire and strengthen the region’s cultural identity, despite the obstacles he encountered and the loss of his kingdom.
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