By Saroj Swain
3 May 2018
Odissi and sacred arts, in general, can be compared with the great rivers like the Ganges which have flown for ages absorbing and discarding in the process. There is invincible power in this great tradition to flow into the future through every threat, very much like the rivers do. However, like nature, even art forms need conscious effort from mankind to survive. It is important that these old traditions speak to the new generations. Today the name Odissi refers to the dance style of the state of Odisha in eastern India.
It was practiced in the most important shrines of the region, like that of Puri, as part of the ritual ceremonies since the year 1000, although it is believed that it existed from as far back as 200 BC. It is a classical dance, danced mostly by women. It originated in the temples where the composers, singers, and the dancers came together. It always centered on the celestial love of Krishna and Radha. At one time it was performed by the Devadasis (female servant of God) dedicated to the temples but now it has spread out to the homes and cultural institutions. But the purity is maintained and the essentials are always kept in view.
The current form of Odissi is a product of the 20th-century revival. Dedicated scholars, practitioners and gurus carefully researched manuscripts and studied the sculptures, paintings and poetry of Odisha. Earlier it was bound within the religious doors of the Hindu temples but upon its revival, it became a more public or secular form of art and was performed on stage worldwide. The notable contribution by the revivalist gurus’ is Guru Pankaj Charan Das, Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra and Guru Debaprasad Das.
Being a part of the culture and knowing the language is essential for any Indian classical dance. For Odissi, there is a need to read, write and speak Oriya. One needs to understand Odissi classical music, Sanskrit, myths and epics of local culture. There is also need to experience Jagannath culture, be familiar with Orissa’s history, its legends and myths to be a good dancer.
I had a great opportunity to see the Odissi performance in a hall called Rabindra mandap, located at Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India by the artists of Gandharba Kala organization, which compelled me to take photographs of the different form of dance with an intention to send the message of an incredible form of Odissi dance through JPGMAG.COM. Hope the readers will understand and give their views.