Photo Essay

Odissi- The dance of love and passion


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 world wide. The notable contribution by the revivalist gurus' are Guru Pankaj Charan Das, Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra and Guru Debaprasad Das.

Being a part of the culture and knowing the language are very essential for any Indian classical dance. For Odissi, there is a need to read, write and speak Oriya. One need 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 organisation, which compelled me to take photographs of different form of dance with a intention to send the message of incredible form of Odissi dance through JPGMAG.COM. Hope the readers will understand and give their views.

VOTE: Do you like this story?

Tell a friend about this story!

Tell a friend about this story!

  1. or

Hi there!

thought you might like this story!

—The JPG team

13 responses

  • Andrea Petersen

    Andrea Petersen gave props (3 May 2018):

    Excellent in every way....narrative and photography!

  • Lynn E. Harvey

    Lynn E. Harvey gave props (3 May 2018):

    Voted!!!! a beauty!

  • David de London

    David de London gave props (3 May 2018):


  • Gail Haberman

    Gail Haberman   said (4 May 2018):

    Fascinating story to accompany your wonderful photos about this captivating tradition. The rich history is remarkable. Well done, Saroj!

  • Andrea Petersen

    Andrea Petersen gave props (4 May 2018):

    I just saw yous story was featured on Recent JPG Live Stories...Congratulations, Saroj!!!

  • Lynn E. Harvey

    Lynn E. Harvey gave props (4 May 2018):


  • Saroj Swain

    Saroj Swain said (4 May 2018):

    Thank you lynn for your wishes!!

  • Saroj Swain

    Saroj Swain said (4 May 2018):

    thank you dear Andrea for your kind support and nomination....

  • Sonia Adam Murray

    Sonia Adam Murray said (4 May 2018):

    A really beautiful story and FABULOUS photos dear Saroj! CONGRATULATIONS to you. I learned something more about your rich history today, thank you!!!

  • Lynn Pepper

    Lynn Pepper gave props (4 May 2018):

    Congratulations Saroj on story of the week. Nice to learn about the Odissi Dance!

  • Saroj Swain

    Saroj Swain said (4 May 2018):

    Thanks Sonia and Lynn for your kind words!!


    ROCIO GUILLEN gave props (9 May 2018):

    Voted. Beautiful story and images!

Want to leave a comment? Log in or sign up!