Dept. of Culture draws flak for ignoring the 99th birth anniversary of the dance guru

Admirers and disciples of folk dance legend Padmashri Bhagaban Sahu are anguished by the fact that the Department of Culture as well as the State administration has forgotten to celebrate his 99th birth anniversary.

With this birth anniversary, the centenary year of the great man of Odia folk dance forms starts, but the Department of Culture has not yet shown any interest in paying fitting tribute to the great man, according to Padmashri Bhagaban Sahu Smaranika Committee (PBSSC) secretary Bighneswar Sahu. The committee held a small seminar of cultural activists in Bhubaneswar on Saturday to mark the occasion.

Bhagaban Sahu was born on September 21, 1914 in Ganjam district. But no programme was taken up in Ganjam district in memory of the great cultural activist. Mr. Bighneswar, who happens to be the grandson of the legend, has said on its own the PBSSC decided to hold seminars, workshops and folk dance programmes throughout year to remember the man who had revived a large number of dyeing folk dance forms of Odisha, especially of the southern region.

Mr. Bighneswar has alleged that the government was taking much interest in promoting modern dance groups that have no footing in Odisha’s cultural heritage but is not showing due respect for the folk art forms.

According to former secretary of Odisha Sangeet Natak Akademi, Manmath Satpathy, Odisha remains indebted to the folk dance guru Bhagaban Sahu who had revived and codified several folk dance forms of south Odisha. This guru of folk dance forms is also remembered as the choreographer of the much-acclaimed movie Bagh Bahadur . The ‘tiger dance’ on which this movie was based was one of the folk dance forms revived by him. The folk dance forms of Odisha which had been revived by him included the ‘tiger dance’, ‘ranapa’, the dance on stilts, ‘jodi sankha’.

In his personal life also Bhagaban Sahu was a social reformer. He was a Brahmin by birth but had preferred to become disciple of tribal and Dalit folk dance gurus living in remote jungles. In 1992, Berhampur University honoured the folk dance legend with the title ‘son of the soil’.

Since long PBSSC and folk dance enthusiasts have been demanding Berhampur University to institute a chair in memory of Padmashree Sahu to initiate a research cell unit to work on folk art forms of this region. But it has yet not materialised.

The Department of Culture has drawn flak for ignoring the 99th birth anniversary of the folk dance guru