Thiruvananthapuram, Jan 14: Kerala today honoured Pakistani ghazal legend Ghulam Ali, as Shiv Sena activists staged a demonstration near the venue where the maestro is scheduled to perform tomorrow.
In his acceptance speech, Ghulam Ali, whose concert in Mumbai had to be cancelled last year following protests by Shiv Sena, remarked that this day was very important for him in his 55 years of singing career.
"I am so happy today. I have not received so much love and affection before. "I started singing on stage 55 years ago, due to the love and affection shown to me, this day is very important for me," Ali said in the presence of a galaxy of state leaders, including Chief Minister Oommen Chandy.
Ali's humility came to the fore as the maestro, who has a large number of fans in the state, said, "I am not a great singer. I am an ordinary singer. I enjoy hearing music, like I can sing also," he said amid applause from the audience.
Chandy said it was a proud a moment for the people of Kerala and also a day that endorsed the rich secular traditions of the state. He presented an 'Aranmula Kannadi' (handmade metal-alloy mirror, made in Aranmula, a village in the state) as a token of love of the state to Ali, who was also honoured with the 'First Swaralaya Global Legendary Award', comprising a citation and a cash of Rs One lakh.
CPI-M veteran and leader of Opposition V S Achuthanandan, State Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala, CPI-M State Secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan and CPI-M politburo member M A Baby were among the large number of dignitaries present. Ali is scheduled to perform here tomorrow and in Kozhiode on January 17.
He is in Kerala on invitation of social cultural organisation Swaralaya and programmes were arranged in association with Grand Kerala Shopping Festival Directorate.
Meanwhile, Shiv Sena in the state who had announced their plan to protest against Ali's programme, held a demonstration near the Muscot Hotel, venue of the programme. Police blocked the sena activists nearly 400 metres away from the venue, where they burnt an effigy of Ali, police said.
Sena had demanded cancellation of Ali's programme in the wale of Pathankot terror strike. Last year, a scheduled programme of Ali was cancelled in Maharashtra following a protest by Shiv Sena. After that, he performed in Kolkata on January 12.