Guru Pranam
Thirty-one years’ dedicated efforts by Vaishali Kala Kendra to promote Odissi dance and music in Delhi and surrounding cities
At the time when a large section of the young Indian generation seems to be under the influence of Western culture, preserving and promoting the Indian classical dance forms and music as well as attracting young talent towards them are not easy tasks. Noida-based Vaishali Kala Kendra has been doing it for the last 31 years through Guru Pranam Utsavs organised every year. In this journey, the Kendra has also made efforts to promote Odissi dance to various other countries including Malaysia, Korea, the USA, Indonesia and Singapore. It is an endeavour of noted Odissi dancer Jyoti Shrivastava to pay tribute to her mentor Guru Srinath Raut.
Smt Jyoti Shrivastava (third from right) and her senior disciplies performing during Guru Pranam Utsav in New Delhi on April 12 
This year, the 31st Guru Pranam Utsav was organised at Stein Auditorium, India Habitat Centre, from April 12 to 13. The festival of Odissi dance and music witnessed various dignitaries from the field of arts and culture including eminent Guru Bankim Sethi and Shri Sunil Kothari, Shri Sandeep Marwah of Marwah Studios and editor of ‘Dialogue India’ Shri Anuj Agrawal. More than 300 people from different walks of life appreciated the wonderful performances by Jyoti Shrivastava and her team.
The first day of the festival, on April 12, began by ‘Krishna Stuti’ as a tribute to her Guruji by Jyoti Shrivastava and her senior disciples—Shaily, Isha, Rahul, Khyati and Shambhawi. The performances were given a finer touch by a rhythmic presentation by Guru Jhelum Paranjape from Mumbai who presented Bhakti, an ‘abhinay’ based on saint poet Chokha Mela’s ‘abhangs’. Next presentation was ‘Shivashtak’ by the guest artist from Japan, Kaori Naka.
This year, the major highlight of the event was new choreography ‘Shakuntala’, which redefined the very idea of Shakuntala and portrayed her as one amongst us and signified the flame of woman empowerment. This new choreography by Jyoti Shrivastava was presented by Jyoti herself along with Shaily Chatterjee, Isha Das, Khyati, Shambhawi, Ritisha and Rahul Varshney. The evening concluded with an award ceremony conferring Guru Srinath Raut Samman to Guru Gajendra Panda and Guru Trinath Maharana.
The second day on April 13 got another melodious and pious moment when it got a kick start with a Hindustani vocal presentation by Siddharth Kishore, who presented ‘raag shree madhyalay jhaptaal’ followed by ‘dhrut teentaal’ and his divine performance left the audience mesmerised. The day continued with an awestruck vocal presentation by Guru Bankim Sethi, who captured the audience till late evening and left a sweet piece of melody to linger on the ears of all the music lovers present in the packed hall. The next star in strings of Melody was Shri Saroj Mohanty whose chords took the audience to a different level of divinity. The evening concluded with melodious Mardala recital by Shri Pradeepta Maharana, who left the audience craving for more till the end.
The third presentation of this year’s Utsav will be held on April 26 at Triveni Kala Sangam, New Delhi. It will be dedicated to the upcoming dancers to promote and encourage them to carry forward the guru shishya parampara. This year the show is conceptualised to showcase the stages of dancer’s learning, how a budding aspiring shishya evolves to a matured dancer thus bringing both shishya and the guru on the stage together. All three generations, Jyoti Shrivastava, her senior most disciples to the budding new dancers, all will perform together.
“Vaishali Kala Kendra is one of the leading institutes formed to promote Odissi dance and music. The institute is dedicated for propagating Odissi dance in Metro city where the awareness and popularity of this dance are now noticeable. The ‘Guru Pranam Utsav’ is a tribute to Guru Srinath Raut, who dedicated his life for the proliferation of Odissi as a cultural dance form across India and beyond,” says Jyoti Shrivastava while talking to Organiser.
She said Guru Srinath Raut was her first Odissi teacher. Though he left this world 30 years ago, he lives through the work of his students and the affectionate memories cherished by the dance community. “His immense dedication towards Odissi and his quest to spread it across in its purest form brought him to Delhi in the early seventies. When he left this world, I lost the hope of dancing but soon realised the importance of carrying forward his legacy and thus the journey of Guru Pranam Utsav started. First Guru Pranam Utsav was organised back in 1989 in Kamani Auditorium with the participation of all the disciples of Guruji. Soon I shifted to out of India with my family and got the opportunity to spread the name and work of my Guruji to the foreign lands. I travelled to Malaysia, Korea, the USA, Indonesia and Singapore and kept on organising Guru Pranam Utsavs involving local artists of those counties like Guru Ramli Ibrahim and Sutra dance theatre in Malaysia, Chandra Bhanu and his disciples in Singapore, Trinayan and Lotus dance theatre in the USA, etc. I feel my Guru still lives through our compositions,” she added.
In the last three decades, Guru Pranam Utsav has presented many eminent artists like Sonal Man Singh, Ramli Ibrahim, Deepti Omcheri Bhalla, Kavita Dwivedi, Aruna Mohanty, etc. The festival also has the distinction of honouring Oriya musicians and dancers. The event has now gained a lot of popularity and is one of the major festivals organised in Delhi. In coming days, Jyoti plans to work with special children and some of the new compositions on Kabir Das, Tulsi Das and Meera Bai to connect more with North Indian audiences.