Mukteshwar Dance Festival: A celebration of the spirit of Odissi

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The Mukteshwar Dance Festival, organized by the Department of Odia Language, Literature and Culture, Bhubaneswar, in collaboration with the Odisha Sangeet Natak Akademi, which took place recently, was an experience in itself for two reasons. First and foremost was the architectural marvel of the 10th-century Mukteshwara temple, considered the epitome of Orissan architecture, as its backdrop, and secondly, it was the first major festival dedicated exclusively to Odissi dance. was dedicated to, featuring solos, duets, and new choreographies. Group format

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Designed to provide a platform to established and young dancers, the festival has been instrumental in enriching the Odissi dance repertoire since its inception. Started in the year 1984, as part of Odisha State Museum’s Golden Jubilee, the Mukteshwar Dance Festival was conceived by the then Director of Culture, Government of Odisha, Subas Pani, writer, scholar, Jayadeva and Jagannath. .

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The first edition featured Odissi experts Sanjukta Panigarahi and Kumkum Mohanty who performed ‘Usha Vilas’, a new choreography by Guru Pankaj Charandas and Guru Gangadhar Pradhan. Similarly, the Gita Govinda was choreographed by Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, which speaks to the high standards the festival has set for Odissi dance.

Carved Toran of Mukteshwar Temple.

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Carved Toran of Mukteshwar Temple. | Photo credit: The Hindu Archives

Beautifully located, one of the richest architectural sculptural treasures of Odisha’s cultural heritage, the Mukteshwar Temple represents the advanced phase of the Kalinga style of architecture with a magnificent entrance gate with a carved toran (a semi-circular arch). Two ornamental and eight pennies are rested on. Carved inside the ceiling is a lotus with petals, which is not found in any other temple in Odisha. The walls of the temple are decorated with numerous beautiful sculptures as well as stories from Panchatantra.

The temple complex has an ancient sun and has several small temples. Across from the main temple is the Parasurmeswara temple. Immediately to its north is the Siddheshwar temple with Ganesha flanked by Kanwar as the Parshwa deity. To the south are the temples of Gauri and Kedareshwara. Few may know that every year the presiding deity of this temple town, Lord Lingaraja, comes to the Gauri temple for a ceremonial marriage with his heavenly spouse.

Mukteshwar festival from 2023.

Photo credit from Mukteshwar Festival 2023: Special Arrangements

According to tradition, the festival began with the ceremonial lighting of lamps on all three days. The spiritual fervor of the Shaivite shrine was further enhanced with group performances of Shiv Vandana, accompanied by a live orchestra consisting of sitar, flute, violin, mandala and manjira that preceded the dance every evening.

Himanshu Kumar Ray and Diptiranjan Baral performing on the final day of the three-day Mukteshwar Festival 2023.

Himanshu Kumar Ray and Diptiranjan Baral perform on the final day of the three-day Mukteshwar festival, 2023. Photo credit: Special Arrangements

On the concluding evening, young duo Himanshu Kumar Ray and Diptiranjan Baral performed ‘Katha Mardal’ as a duet. It was one of the commendable new choreographies presented this year. Conceived and scripted by Srinivas Ghatwari and Kedar Mishra, with rhythms by Guru Dhaneshwar Swain and choreography by Guru Aruna Mohanty, it traces the story of Mardal from its tribal origins to its folk and classical stature. What did He began his evening performance with ‘Rudra Mandala’, depicting the presiding deity of Ekmar Peetha Shiva in his three forms of Rudra, Mahakala and Nataraja.

Himanso Kumar Ray and Diptiranjan Baral.

Himanso Kumar Ray and Diptiranjan Baral. | Photo credit: Special Arrangements

The gradual evolution of the versatile instrument also covered various stages such as the Mahariyas (temple dancers), the Gotipwas, and the classical Odissi dancers and singers with the composition of different types of verses, recitations, and then various jats such as the third, It is played in Chitusra. , Khanda, Mishra and Sankirana by Guru Dhaneshwar Swain. The duet performance started with two dancers worshiping the Murdal and then one of them played the percussion instrument and the other took the story to exciting heights with manjira and dance.

The inaugural evening began with a prayer to Shiva by Mahendra Kumar Acharya and the group, before Sreeta Mishra from Bengaluru presented a poem of her own to Lord Shiva. His Abhinaya piece ‘Ganga’ was about Patit-Pavani, Mukti-Karini, Moksha Dini Ganga.

Gayatri Ranbir and Saurabh Mohanty (duo performance) opened with Pallavi in ​​Shadha Desi which started with Raag Dhyan Shloka and then a short dance drama ‘Pashani Ahaliya’ with appropriate music by Sukanth Kumar Kundu, Taal guru Dhaneshwar Swain and dance. With choreography by Guru Durga Charan Ranbir.

The inaugural evening concluded with a group performance by the students of Utkal University of Culture. He performed Pancha-Mahabhuta, Gavati Pallavi, and Pancha-Deva-Sattuti based on Adi Shankara’s Chorastakam in Ragmalika and Talmalika. This Abhiniya piece also includes ‘Shabda Swara Path’ and Kaliya Daman Leela.

Prafulchandra Behera and the group from Cuttack started the evening program of the second day with a prayer in Oriya. Solo Odissi was performed by Harikrishna Dhal, invoking the cosmic dancer Nataraja. ‘Bali-Moksha’ explores a new interpretation of Balivadha. Conceived, scripted and voiced by Srinivasa Ghattori, here Bali is not killed but rescued by Rama.

The duo of Terlochan Sahu and Prashanthi Jena, trained by Guru Sujata Mohapatra, performed Hamsadhavani Pallavi and Dasvatara set to Raga Mohana and Taal Jhampa. Guru Kasturi Pattanaika and Sankalp Delhi’s group presentation consisted of Uma Maheswara Stotra, Patdeep Pallavi, and Abhinaya on the popular Odia song Mare Banu/Dhara Sravana Ki…, culminating in ‘Nirvana’, Moksha.

The concluding evening was followed by the Siva-Panchakshara-Stotra rendered by Nemkanta Rautre and group followed by ‘Nandika-kesari’, an Ekaharya abhinaya for Ragmalika and Talmalika by Guru Skatadas. This solo dance drama was based on the Odia play of the same name written by her father, renowned playwright Manoranjan Das.

Sakatadas performing her solo 'Nandika-kesari' at Mukteshwar Festival, 2023.

Sakatadas performing her solo ‘Nandika-kesari’ at Mukteshwar festival, 2023. Photo credit: Special Arrangements

The Mukteshwar Dance Festival concluded with Rati Kanta Mohapatra’s Srijan Ensemble performing Shiva Tandava Stotra, Shankarabharana Pallavi and their new choreography ‘Vande Suryam’.

The Sanskrit lyrics for the new text were written by Pt. Special mention needs to be made of the professional quality of the well-researched and eloquent anchoring of Nityanand Mishra’s Srinivas Ghatwari in Odia and Sushri Sanhati Pani in English.

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