Ghazal singer Pankaj Udhas has begun a week-long tour of southern African cities with a concert here where he was honoured in traditional Indian style with a shawl being placed on his shoulders.
Afzel Mohamed, general manager of the South African Broadcasting Corporation, representing the national Indian public broadcast station Lotus FM, said the honour was bestowed on Udhas because of the enjoyment he had brought to thousands of fans in South Africa.
"The music and songs of Pankaj remind us of our culture and who we are as a community as well as our responsibilities towards Indian music, being the national public broadcast station for South African Indian audiences," Mohamed told IANS.
"We are committed to promoting local artistes by attracting international artistes so that we can learn from our counterparts overseas. In this way I believe we can help generate interest in local Indian music."
Udhas will perform in Durban, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth before a final performance in neighbouring Botswana.
Although live shows from India are generally welcomed and well supported despite the recent outcry against highly priced tickets, similar performances by local Indian artistes get little support in South Africa.
Udhas said Lotus FM had played a great role in furthering his career and he was proud to enter his 25th year in the industry with a South African tour.
"Lotus FM has been instrumental in bringing my music to people because in South Africa television came much later. It was always the radio that took my music across to the people.
"To receive a shawl from Lotus which has played such a big role and done so much for my career is a singular honour."
The radio station presented a special citation to Udhas during his last tour of South Africa a decade ago, when he visited with his brothers Nirmal and Manhar with their "Teen Mausam" show.
Udhas said he was pleasantly surprised that South Africans still loved his performance.
"It was a great feeling!" Udhas commented on the loud appeals for some of the ghazals and geets that had made him famous here more than a decade ago.