Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

A lady artiste has braved all odds like social stigma and acute poverty and is currently struggling hard to make ends meet for her family by performing ‘Danda Nrutya’.

Meet Droupadi Jagadala from Talapadar village in Boudh district. The 16-year-old Droupadi lost her mother in her childhood. The hapless lady is leading a miserable life in a thatched hut along with her family members. Her family comprising her old and ailing father and four sisters are dependent on her to sustain their livelihood.

Droupadi, who is a Danda artiste, is striving hard to make the ends meet from her meagre income.

As per locals, Droupadi is a good student. However, she was forced to leave studies after matriculation as the financial condition of her family worsened. When her old and ailing father was not able to work following the demise of her mother, Droupadi had no option but to take the burden of the family on her own fragile shoulders.

Droupadi had an affinity for singing and dancing since childhood. She was a gifted singer and dancer.  She braved all odds like social stigma and acute poverty to convert her passion into profession.  Following the ordeal of her family, she approached the manager of a ‘Danda Nacha’ troupe for a job as an artiste.

After struggling hard for a few years and gradually learning the art, she was given the role of Dutee. Following her speedy progress and vast improvement in the art form, she is now playing the role of Radha. Droupadi has now become a very popular Danda artiste in the district because of her mellifluous voice and fascinating acting. As a popular Danda artiste, she has not only carved a niche in the district, but also she has brought laurels for Odisha by performing outside the district and the State as well.

“I had a liking for Danda Nacha from my childhood. When our financial condition worsened, I begged permission from my family members to learn and perform the art to earn livelihood. With their whole-hearted support, I have become a Danda artist,” said Droupadi.

Droupadi is the only earning member of our family. We have no option, but to allow her perform the art for our livelihood,” said Drouupadi’s father Ranka Jagdala.

Despite all her achievement as a popular Danda artiste, Droupadi and her family are still suffering in acute poverty. Her meagre income is not sufficient to provide the family two square meals a day.

Locals have demanded help from government for Droupadi’s poor family.

“Apart from being an artiste, Droupadi is also a good student. She wants to pursue her studies along with the art. The government should support her family by providing them a house and financial assistance,” said Danda troupe manager, Mansingh Khura.