Odisha’s Dying Dance Art Form ‘Prahlad Natak’ Finds New Lease Of Life

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Berhampur: When the days of 150-year-old dance form ‘Prahlad Natak’, popularly known as ‘Raja Nata’, that has enthralled people over the years is fast fading away, Odisha Sangeet Natak Akademi has come forward to preserve it in Ganjam district.

An orientation programme was launched in Dhabaleswar block of the district under the guidance of Guru Santosh Rana on Tuesday. Ten budding artists would be trained on this dance form by Rana for six months with a scholarship of Rs 1500 per month.

Rana, who is an exponent of this folk dance form for years and has been performing as ‘Hiranyakashipu’, said the royal patronage had boosted ‘Prahlad Natak’ in the olden days. But subsequently, lack of patronage and financial support to artists by the government pushed the art almost to its death.

He hoped that the systematic efforts by the Odisha Sangeet Natak Akademi would give a new lease of life to the dance form. The number of groups performing ‘Prahlad Natak’ which was above 100 a few years ago has decreased considerably. Most of the former artists are now working as labourers for livelihood, he said.

‘Prahlad Natak’ was authoured by Gaurahari Parichha (1798-1897), a poet and musician of Paralakhemundi (present district headquarters of Gajapati district). Parichha had dedicated the verses to the erstwhile Raja Saheb of Jalantar Ramakrushna Chottaray, who popularised the dance form with royal patronage, sources said.

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