‘Baripada is ideally located to cater to needs of artistes in three States’

The demand of the people of Odisha to set up the National Chhau Dance Centre at Baripada has finally found favour with the Ministry of Culture.

In a recent letter to Mayurbhanja MP Laxman Soren, who had communicated the people’s demand to the Minister in May last, Union Culture Minister Kumari Selja assured that the government has been contemplating upgrading the existing regional Chhau centre at Baripada into a national centre. The Minister said there was no proposal to set up the national centre at Jamshedpur in Jharkhand.

For the past three years, various socio-cultural outfits of the Odias across the country and abroad and the people of Mayurbhanj district in particular were demanding to set up the National Chhau Centre at Baripada instead of Jamshedpur.

They were of the opinion that Baripada was ideally located to cater to the three styles of Chhau existing in Odissa, West Bengal, and Jharkhand.

While Baripada has been the cradle of Mayurbhanj Chhau, Jamshedpur did not have any Chhau dance culture, they said.

Ever since the then secretary of Sangeet Natak Akademi Jayant Kastuar, who hails from Jamshedpur, announced that the National Chhau Centre would be set up in Jamshedpur, the public protest in Odisha kicked off culminating in making appeals to the President and the Prime Minister to consider Baripada for the Centre.

Even New Delhi-based Shyam Sundar Sahoo had sought answers from the SNA to six of his questions under the Right to Information Act following which the SNA has clarified a year ago that no decision has been taken on the venue for the National Chhau Centre and if decided for Mayurbhanj Chhau, it would be at Baripada or Rairangapur in Mayurbhanj district.