Kendrapara: Age seems to have become just numbers for octogenarian Koili Moharana of Atharabati village under Pattamundai block in Kendrapara district. Despite her advance age, she sings classical Odissi songs with utmost precision with the skills of a professional vocalist.

Though Koili can’t see clearly, she plays the harmonium and teaches local children in classical Odissi music. She sings the various forms of Odissi music, including chaupadi, chhanda, champu, chautisa, janana, malasri, bhajana, sarimana, jhula, kuduka, koili, poi, boli and more with ease and eloquence.

Moreover, she remembers the verses from the ‘Gita Govinda’ penned by celebrated 12th century Odia poet Jaydev, and also Ramayan. With her efforts, she has been trying to teach the post-millennial to learn and preserve Odia culture and classical music.

Koili’s efforts are praiseworthy especially at a time when Odia culture and heritage are fast losing relevance due to the onslaught of westernisation and changing preferences of the younger generation. Through her endeavour, Koili seems to have made herself a torchbearer of the silent movement to protect and preserve the cultural heritage of the State.

According to Koili, she had learnt to play musical instruments and Odissi music at an early age of 10. “I learnt ‘Chaupadi’ and ‘Ramayana’. Though, I can’t recall all the verses perfectly but can sing those using ‘Chhanda’,” said Koili.

Her daughter in-law said, “My mother in-law loves the rich Utkaliya culture and encourages the new generation to preserve it. Nowadays, no one likes to listen to Odissi Music. Yet we love to seat with her while she sings. We really enjoy it thoroughly.”

Koili’s granddaughter has learnt to play harmonium and Odissi songs from her. “Thanks to my grandmother, I have developed an eagerness to learn classical music. She teaches me very well. Not only me, but children from the neighbourhood also come to learn music from her,” added her granddaughter.

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