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Orissa dancer struggles for a daily living

Sat, 11 Aug 2007 19:52:00
Sponsored by the State Government, Gurubari has to her credit, dancing with late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi way back in 1968.
Hemanta Kumar Rout, Santanu Biswal
Gurubari . It took 39 long years for the artists and cultural warriors of Bargarh to recognize the unsung talent, when individual with lesser achievements have been made heroes overnight.

Bhubaneswar, August 10 (Odisha.in )  She is perhaps the only living example of the unadulterated distinct Sambalpuri dance form. The bindaas dance form that has caught the imagination of the people worldwide giving it a different identity.

And this pleasure of unbridled dancing to the tune of Sambalpuri musical instrument of dhol, nisaan, mahuri, tassa had led Gurubari Mirdha to unshackle her from the traditional social mores and norms to participate in the Republic Day celebration at New Delhi.

Sponsored by the State Government, Gurubari has to her credit, dancing with late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi way back in 1968. But it took 39 long years for the artists and cultural warriors of Bargarh to recognize the unsung talent, when individual with lesser achievements have been made heroes overnight.

Gurbari who was once idol for many girls who defied odds to take up dancing inspired by her courage was finally felicitated on the open stage at the Bargarh Lok Mahotsav by the organisers giving her some reasons to cheer and smile for the second time in her life full with struggle for existence.

"I was feeling like on cloud nine when I received the honour. It was really a tremendous experience for me," she had told soon after the ceremony.

The first time she had danced with Indira Gandhi at her 17. Although she has been felicitated at Sambalpur by various organizations, for the first time she was felicitated in Bargarh.

In fact it was Gurubari who had put the Sambalpuri dance on the national cultural map with her dance during the Republic Day. But today she is either working as a daily labourer or making leaf plates to eke out a living.

It was only four decades back when this lady had stirred up the state with Indira Gandhi praising her carefree dance, which won her accolades and admirers.

"So impressed was Madam Gandhi on her that the State Government went ahead and published a calendar showing Gurubari dancing with the former prime minister. But today, the mascot is suffering silently to bear the burden of her aged husband," said Nishamani Sahu, a senior citizen of her village.

"Neither the artists who have made it big selling and performing Sambalpuri dance form remember her nor the government which had once made her sits on a pedestal aware of her," he added.

Walking down memory lane, Gurbari recalled how the Sambalpur dance form was termed vulgar and girls who danced were looked down upon. Explaining that foot movement in Sambalpuri dance was tied to the foot tapping notes of the traditional instrument, she revealed that commercial interest has diluted the original dance form.

"The moves are calculated and have replaced the carefree movements and so also to the music. The dance is not more spontaneous. Music is being plated to the movements and not the other way round," she says.

Yet as she struggles to earn a livelihood, Gurubari has no complaints and cherishes her memories even as she struggles day in and day out to keep the fire in her kitchen burning.


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