Padma Shri award recognition of my nine-decade-long dedication to Krishna Leela folk dance: Swain

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Bhubaneswar/Berhampur, Jan 27 (PTI) One-hundred and five-year-old Gopinath Swain, the oldest among all the Padma awardees this year, said the prestigious award is the recognition of his over nine decade-long dedication towards the practice of 'Krishna Leela' folk dance.

Swain was singing the 'Krishna Leela' when his family members informed him that he had been selected for the Padma Shri award.

He was among the four persons from Odisha to get the Padma Shri award this year. The three others were Bhagabat Pradhan, Binod Maharana and Binod Kumar Pasayat.

'Krishna Leela', is a form of narrating the activities of Lord Krishna through singing in the backdrop of local music.

Swain, well known as 'Guru' (master) in the locality said he was humbled for being selected for the prestigious civilian award of the country.

"This is the recognition of my over nine-decade devotion towards the practice of the Krishna Lella", said Swain.

"Age will not deter me from pursuing knowledge. I will continue to learn till my last berth", he said.

Several people on Friday thronged his residence at Gobindapur in Sheragada block, about 35 km from Berhampur town to felicitate him.

"We are very much happy and also proud of him as he will receive such a prestigious award at this age", said Nibedita Pradhan, a Zilla Parishad member.

Born in 1918, Swain started learning Krishna Leela at the age of 10 from his father’s elder brother. Initially, he was singing classical songs and playing the role of Krishna. With age, he played some other roles in folk art and then became the main singer-cum-director of the folk dance.

He had established an Akhada (traditional dance school) in the village and had imparted song and dance training to several young people in the rural villages. He was singing at least five classical ragas during the performance while mixing some modern ones to attract the younger generation.

Despite his old age, he continues to attend Akhada and practice the songs regularly with the traditional instrumental music, said Amit Swain, his grandson.

Hrushikesh Panigrahy, a folk art researcher and former officer of the All India Radio, Berhampur said at a time when the Krishna Leela-the folk art dance was almost extinct in the society, the award to Swain, is also a recognition of this folk art in the region.

Lyricist and dramatist Binod Kumar Pasayat of Sambalpur town is happy and thanked the Central government for the award.

"I did not believe it when I heard the news. My daughter-in-law later confirmed the news. Many thanks to the Modi government", he said.

A school dropout and a barber by profession, Pasayat has written many Sambalpuri dramas and songs. He rose to fame with his Sambalpuri play, 'Mui Nai Mare' (I will never die).

"Recently I gave up my profession as a barber due to failing health but I continue to write", Pasayat said, adding that his small saloon is his laboratory where he experimented with words and created literature.

Though he was born in Tikrapada in Bolangir district, Pasayat moved to Sambalpur town to open a saloon where he worked as a barber as well as a writer in Sambalpuri language.

Pasayat's saloon was considered as the temple of Sambalpuri language, He has also written playback songs for Odia film-'Samarpan', 'Adivasi', 'Para-Stree' and 'Chini'. 'Hai Hai Krushna Boli Jau Mo Jiban', was his all-time hit in Odia cinema songs.

Bhagabat Pradhan (85), an exponent of ‘Sabda Nrutya’ folk dance from Bargarh was also chosen for the prestigious award. He is credited for "expanding the scope of Sabda Nrutya dance from temple premises to the wider platforms." Pradhan has dedicated over five decades of his life to preserve and popularise the art that is linked to the dance of Mahadev (Lord Shiva). His lifelong efforts contributed significantly in sustaining this dance form.

He started his career as a teacher in a Lower Primary School in the 1960s and has trained more than 600 dancers.

Bhubaneswar-based Binod Kumar Maharana, popularly known as 'Shilpi Guru' is a painter and Pattachitra artist. Maharana is a recipient of National Awards like All India Handicrafts Board, New Delhi in 1974, Viswakarma Citation in 1983 and the State Lalit Kala Akademi, 1983.

He was born in 1945, "I have received many awards throughout my career as a traditional painter, but this one is special and dear to me", Maharana said.

He was chosen for the Padma Shri for his contribution to preserving the Pattachitra art form. PTI COR AAM RG