The residents of Bargarh have been cock-a-hoop since the announcement of Bhagabat Padhan’s name as the recipient of the Padma Shri award for the year 2024.
A resident of the Barpali area, Bhagabat Padhan is an exponent of Sabda Nrutya, a folk dance form, which he has been performing for more than 51 years. During this period, he created over 150 artistes.
Eighty-six-year-old Padhan started his career as a teacher in a Lower Primary school but his passion has been Sabda Nrutya dance. He has dedicated over five decades of his life to preserve and popularise the art that is linked to the dance of Mahadev.
A visibly delighted, Bhagabat said the award belongs to the people of his village, Barpali, Bargarh, and entire Odisha.
“An award brings happiness and, that way, I am also happy. But this honour is the honour of my village, Bargarh district, Western Odisha, and the entire Odisha. I am just a medium,” said Bhagabat.
When asked about his journey, he said, “When I was four years old, my mother went to her heavenly abode. As I would keep mourning, my father thought I might die grieving my mother’s death. So my father handed me over to the presiding deity of the village ‘Akhada Shala’. Thereafter, my artiste life started. I have been performing the art for 81 years. What I have experienced is that life would be bland without art. I have received the award at the fag end of my life for which I am thankful to the government.”
"The art form was in a dying state in my Kumari village. I revived it and have been working for its propagation. I have also created a group in the hope that they would keep the art form alive. For this art form, I had to suffer a lot. I had to resign from my job to pursue my passion. For this, I often faced criticisms starting from my family members to outsiders,” he added.
(Reported by Dharmadutta Padhi)