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Goodbye Rajshree Joshi

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By Lokesh Ohri

How does one write an obituary for someone with whom you have shared all your angst and joy, for several decades? How does one condole the passing away of a true human being, who had the uncanny ability of bringing joy and cheer to everyone around?

In the untimely demise of Rajshree Joshi, founder-member of Uttarakhand’s premier arts and culture organization REACH (Rural Entrepreneurship for Art & Cultural Heritage) and the well-known Virasat – Arts and Heritage Festival, we have lost a visionary and committed cultural activist.

The cruel hands of COVID-induced-complications snatched her away from us a few days ago, leaving the arts and culture fraternity of the state devastated.

In the trials and tribulations of the setting up, and the steady growth of an organization like REACH and the Virasat Festival, edifices that were built brick-upon-precious-brick, she stood like a rock and inspired the entire family of arts and heritage lovers to face all obstacles with fortitude. A person of great integrity, one could always rely on her documentation and management skills. She would always reach any venue before the volunteers did, and then reserved a word of friendly admonition for them. Virasat will especially, always miss her dedication towards the decoration and management of the festival stage, or the setting-up of the Theatrefest sets, that pleased the artistes and attracted the audience. Even now, I can envision her up there, somewhere, decorating a beautiful corner in God Almighty’s realm.

Rajshree Joshi was an entrepreneur who, from her early years, dedicated herself completely to the cause of arts and culture. She embodied the true spirit of nishkaam-karma, selfless service, without any expectation of reward. She was a keen traveller and our travels together to learn from festivals such as Khajuraho, or to organise the Himalayan folk performances of Chakravyuh in the Ukhimath region of Garhwal are memories that I shall cherish forever. Such was her integrity that even in times of failing health, she would continue to serve, and inspired the hundreds of volunteers who would have been exposed to the arts under her tutelage.

May her family members and her extended family of art connoisseurs gather the strength to bear this untimely loss.