Rhythm of mardala falls silent as maestro Banamali Maharana passes away

Bhubaneswar: Mardala exponent Banamali Maharana, who played a champion role in promotion of the instrument across the globe, passed away in Bhubaneswar today. He was 83.

According to reports, Maharana was undergoing treatment at a private hospital in Bhubaneswar for various age-related ailments for the past few days.

Maharana was instrumental in making efforts to give recognition to the mardala as a classical music instrument. An accompanying artiste to noted Odissi guru late Kelucharan Mahapatra, Maharana had no compare in playing the percussion instrument in Odissi style. He initially began his career as a teacher at Kala Vikash Kendra in Cuttack and later joined the Odisha Sangeet Mahavidyalaya as a lecturer.

It was due to Maharana’s efforts that the mardala department was set up at Odisha Sangeet Mahavidyalaya and subsequently diploma and degree courses were also introduced.

Maharana was honoured with the prestigious Orissa Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1994, Kendriya Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 2004 and the Kabi Samrat Upendra Bhanja Sanman in 2016. He had also won this year’s Odisha Citizen’s Award instituted by OTV for his contribution to the field of art and culture.

After his retirement, Maharana had set up a mardala academy in Bhubaneswar and his students have brought laurels for the state in Odissi and tala-vadya.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and former MP Baijayant Panda condoled the demise of Maharana.