When cultural ethos of Puri meet Odissi

Bhubaneswar: Odissi danseuse Rupalata Mohanty beautifully blended the cultural ethos of Puri and Lord Jagannath in a recent performance in Kolkata.

She, along with Smruti Ranjan Rath, depicted the love tale of Lord Krishna and Radha, their Raasa Leela (the dance of passion) through the Ashtapadi ‘Kuru Yadu Nandana’ by poet Jayadev in Debaprasad style of Odissi.

What set the performance apart was the attire, the dancers donned. Smruti Ranjan dressed up as ‘Guali’, the groom, wearing a flower ‘topor’ (a head gear and precursor of the ‘nola-mukuta’ of Odia marriage). Sandalwood paste smeared all over the body.

“Lord Krishna had dressed up as a Guali during his wedding to Rukmini. It is a tradition in Puri, which I have tried to emulate through this performance,” said Rupalata.

‘Neta-Pila’, the young girls in the age group of 5 to 12 years observe 21-day abstinence in Puri, worshipping Shiva for a good husband, dress up in gold and silver jewellery with flower tahiya.

“This the other tradition that was showcased on stage,” said Rupalata, who had dressed up as ‘Neta-Pila’ for the performance, a departure from the all-silver jewellery look with Sambalpuri saree of Odissi.

The performers looked ethereal on the stage, as the rich appearance added to the romance between Lord Krishna and Radha.

A student of Odissi Guru Bijaylaxmi Dash, Rupalata has always experimented with the looks. “It is because of my theatre background and association with Annapurna A theatre. My mother, who was a make-up artist, often experiments with draping sarees to the dancers,” she said.

Having acted in numerous plays, Rupalata brings the fluidity and spectacle of theatre to her dance performances.

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