Kolkata-based noted Odissi dancer, choreographer and guru Sharmila Biswas was conferred the coveted Mahari Award for the year during the concluding evening of the three-day Guru Pankaj Utsav at Rabindra Mandap here on Friday. Governor M. C. Bhandare presented the award that carries a memento and a cash of Rs.25, 000. The award has been instituted by the city-based Guru Pankaj Charan Odissi Research Foundation to honour an internationally acclaimed solo Odissi dancer.

“It's a special feeling to be honoured in the land of Odissi,” said Sharmila, disciple of legendary Odissi maestro Kelucharan Mohapatra, in acknowledgement of the award.

She also performed following the award presentation ceremony.

The evening featured dancers Suhag Nalini Das belonging to the host organization, Shayomita Dasgupta from Kolkata, Vani Madhav from New Delhi and city-based Guru Naba Kishore Mishra.

Earlier on Thursday, Subhalaxmi Padhi, Raseswari Mohanty, Sagarika Sahani and Bijay Kumar Dash – all from Bhubaneswar – performed Odissi while Sagarika Mohanty presented the ritualistic Mahari dance.

The annual festival, now in its 16{+t}{+h} edition, is the only of its kind that exclusively features soloists as per the desire of later Guru Pankaj Charan Dash revered as the guru of gurus in Odissi.