Feb 23, 2021 Letters
Seeta Panday, a pillar of the Indo-Guyanese community in America has passed on. She died on Sunday afternoon at New York Presbyterian Hospital. She was hospitalized for a few weeks. She died of COVID-related issues on Saturday night at a hospital.
Seeta is known as Guyana’s Melody Queen. She was well known among Guyanese, Trinis, and Indian nationals as a legendary artiste. Community leaders expressed grief over her demise. She held a special place in the heart of the Indian diaspora for her singing talent and her generosity in community events. When she was hospitalized, there were prayers for her recovery. She had legions of fans, who are saddened to learn of her demise. The Indo-Guyanese, Indo-Caribbean communities are in shock as news of her death made the rounds with tributes pouring in from fans, community leaders, religious figures, and Indian music lovers.
Seeta, as she was popular known, was acknowledged by Indo-Guyanese community leaders not only as a fantastic singer but also a great human being. She sang Bollywood, local Chatney, and devotional songs. She recorded several albums over the last thirty years. She also led several groups on tours to India. She enthralled audiences across the US, Trinidad, Canada, India and her native Guyana.
Seeta performed at countless functions. Her performances, renditions with an evergreen voice, were bankable. She sang single and duo as well as in choral performances. Her voice mesmerized audiences wherever she performed. And she performed in various locations in America as well as in Canada, India, Guyana, Trinidad, Jamaica. She carved a special place for devotional songs related to Diwali and religious services. The community expressed anguish over her passing.
She will be remembered for her bhajans and remarkable Hindi Filmi songs with her inspiring voice. She contributed to charitable humanitarian service, the way few did. She never said no to a request. She committed herself to her people. There was hardly a public event that involved singing Indian (Hindi, Bhojpuri, Guyanese dialect) songs that she was not asked to put in a performance. Her presence at public events was always acknowledged because of her standing in the Indo-Guyanese and Indo-Caribbean community. She gave of her service willingly without payment. She performed at countless events including at every Indian Arrival Day celebrations in New York going back for two decades.
Seeta was a true patriot, a faithful servant of the Guyanese diaspora in America. She supported and or lent a helping hand every event fund raising that was Guyanese, Indo-Caribbean, and Indian diaspora related. She was at the annual Guyana Independence Day and India Independence Day events. Her presence was noted that the India Day parade as well as at the Diwali and Holi parades. She was honored for her singing talent and charitable, community activities by dozens of organizations. Regrettably, she was not recognized or honored by the governments of Guyana or Trinidad or India for her contributions to the diaspora of those nations.
As Dr. Tara Singh, President of the Guyana Democracy Project, noted, “With the death of Seeta, the community is very saddened. She is a terrific singer, a legend. She is a cultural icon. She is one of the most respected and versatile vocalists of the Indian, Indo-Caribbean and Guyanese diasporas. Her community work is immeasurable. We have lost a great soul, a terrific personality. No one can replace her”.
Indo-Caribbean President Ralph Tamesh praised Seeta’s contributions to the Indian Caribbean Federation for over thirty years. “She was a judge for various talent and beauty competitions at the Arrival Day celebrations. She entertained Seniors at the annual Christmas luncheon. She brought many talents together, a mentor to vocalists. We will miss her participation”.
I’m very fortunate to have attended countless events where Seeta performed including at mandirs, weddings, matticores, funerals, wakes, jhandis, Koran Shariefs. Bhagwats, Ramayanas, concerts, and the like. She had a very warm, friendly, charming personality. She had a gentle voice in her remarks and always a smiling face. She was never angry or upset with anyone.
Her death is a loss to the music fraternity as well as to the Indo-Guyanese community in America. My deepest condolences to her family. May her soul rest in peace. Her family should take comfort in the fact that her musical legacy will live on forever! Om Shanti!
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