By Vishnu Bisram
THE Guyanese-based Surya Narayan Mandir, 173rd Street off Jamaica Ave., Queens, hosted a remembrance ceremony for the late Hari Om Sharan, on Sunday December 5. Sharan, a Hindu religious devotional singing icon, passed away in December 2007 in New York.
Hari Om was described as the world’s greatest bhajan singer. He was well known as “Dadaji” and was very close to the Surya Narayan Mandir Guyanese family.
Sharan was born on September 26, 1932 in Lahore in the state of Punjab, British India that would later become part of Pakistan. He and his family moved to India after partition in 1947. He attained fame singing bhajans that were very popular in the diaspora. The Hindu or Indian population in Guyana was often awakened by his songs early morning on radio stations. He travelled to Guyana and other parts of the region performing at religious concerts. His singing is legendary globally.
In Guyana, he met and fell in love with a beautiful singing nightingale Nandini. They got married and she became a backup singer to him. They were involved in countless albums. They went on concert tours in the Indian diaspora. He died 2007 at Jamaica hospital in New York and was also cremated there. He and Nandini (commonly known as Didi-ji) were very closely affiliated with Shri Surya Narayan Mandir where nightly wake was held for him.
Hari Om had a magnificent evergreen golden voice and could have become a leading singer for the Bollywood film industry that could have earned him unlimited wealth and become a household name. But he did not seek fortune. Instead, he pursued God, dedicating his life to devotional singing in praise to the lord, particularly Ram, Sita, and Hanuman. All of the leading singers in the Bollywood movie industry paid tribute to him for his total dedication to devotional singing.
At Surya Narayan Mandir, glowing tributes were paid to him by Guruji Pandit Ram Hardowar and all the pandits in attendance. Bahen Radha Hardowar also recalled her experience in the final days of Hari Om preparing snacks for him and for Didi-ji. Also joining in the tribute were Bhai Lutchman Budhai, Nazir Subrattee, Anoop Dhanpat and several Trinidadians.
Verses of several of his bhajans were sung. Many recalled their fond memories and experiences with him. As the tributes were said or sung, Didi-ji participated live via a video link from her home in Mumbai. She also sang verses of his bhajans and also sang along with others who sang his bhajans in tribute.