Google doodle pays tribute to Rukmini Devi Arundale

The founder of 'Kalakshetra' was honoured with numerous national, international and state awards.

February 29, 2016 10:10 am | Updated 02:07 pm IST

A screenshot of the doodle.

A screenshot of the doodle.

Search engine giant Google on Monday celebrated the 112 nd birth anniversary of Rukmini Devi Arundale, a pioneering dancer of the 1930s, and a visionary institution-builder who built a public cultural and educational centre known as Kalakshetra.

The doodle features a depiction of Rukmani Devi in traditional dance attire with flowers in her hair holding up a mudra amidst trademark lettering of the search giant in trailing pink.

Rukmini-Devi-Arundale established the International Academy for the Arts in 1936, renamed as Kalakshetra in 1938 (kala refers to the arts, and kshetra to a field or sanctuary).

One of the eight children of Nilakanta Sastri and Seshammal, Rukmini was born on February 29, 1904, in Madurai. Brought up in the traditional set up, Rukmini Devi was trained in Indian music by some great musicians. But dance in which field she was to make her mark later was absolutely forbidden to young Rukmini. The only women permitted to dance at that time were the ritually dedicated women known as devadasis in South India.

Rukmini's father, who was a Sanskrit scholar and an ardent Theosophist, enlarged the intellectual dimensions of his orthodox family by exposing them to the humanist ideals of Theosophy. In one of the Theosophical Society parties, young Rukmini met George Arundale, close associate of Dr. Annie-Besant. Arundale fell in love with young Rukmini who was then barely 16 years of age. He proposed marriage. They were married in 1920

Love for animals

Rukmini's love for animals and birds is well known. A Rajya Sabha MP in 1952 and 1956, she introduced the Bill for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which was passed in 1960. She was Chairman of the Animal Welfare Board from 1962, till her demise.

Rukmini Devi was honoured with numerous national, international and state awards, including the Padma Bhushan (1956), Sangeet Natak Akademi (1957), Desikothama (1972), Kalidasa Samman (1984) and many others. She served as a Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) for two terms.

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