Now here’s one birthday greeting that doesn’t come too easily. When Lata Mangeshkar turned 83 on Friday, she was delighted to receive birthday greetings from the Pope Benedict XV1 straight from the Vatican.
Feeling duly honoured, Lataji said, “It was a very pleasant surprise. The Pope is the most prominent and revered leader of the Catholic Church. To hear from him on my birthday was not just expected, it was a rare privilege.”
Adding to her joy was the fact that the Pope’e greeting named her as ‘Lata Deenanath Mangeshkar’.
“Not many people address me with my father’s name. That felt good. I am proud to be known as Master Deenanath Mangeshkar’s daughter,” said Lataji emotionally.
Compounding her joy at this show of benediction from the top-man at the Vatican was the fact that Lataji’s sister Asha Bhosle joined the Nightingale for an evening of birthday celebrations restricted to family members only.
The family dinner hosted by Lataji’s niece Rachana Shah (daughter of Meena Mangeshkar) was attended by the entire Mangeshkar clan, including of course Asha Bhosle.
“There were about 60 of us,” said one of the family members. “Didi and Ashatai spent the whole evening chatting and joking around. That evening we were what we are: a closely-knit family. Didi’s favourite food daal-dhokli and paani-puri were served along with Maharashtrian cuisine and Chinese and Italian food for the youngsters. Actually Didi’s birthday celebrations started a day before her birthday on Thursday and went on until Saturday when Ganesh Visarjan happened. She hasn’t had much sleep in the last three days. But she doesn’t care. She’s happy that the entire family was with her.”
Says Lataji, “I’d have liked to invite all my colleagues from the film industry. Next time for sure.”