Pandit Birju Maharaj

  • A descendant of the Maharaj family of Kathak dancers
  • Was from Lucknow’s Kalka-Bindadin Gharana
  • One of the youngest artistes to be awarded a Sangeet Natak Akademy (28).
  • Conferred with a Padma Vibhushan
  • Won the National Film Award in 2012

About Kathak dance form

  • The origin of Kathak is traditionally attributed to the traveling bards of ancient northern India known as Kathakars or storytellers. 
  • The term Kathak is derived from the Vedic Sanskrit word Katha which means “story”, and Kathakar which means “the one who tells a story”, or “to do with stories”.
  • Only classical dance of India having links with Muslim culture, it represents a unique synthesis of Hindu and Muslim genius in art.
  • The nineteenth century saw the golden age of Kathak under the patronage of Wajid Ali Shah, the last Nawab of Oudh. He established the Lucknow gharana with its strong accent on bhava, the expression of moods and emotions. 
  • The Jaipur gharana known for its layakari or rhythmic virtuosity and the Benaras gharana are other prominent schools of Kathak dance. 
  • Raslila: The Vaishnavite cult which swept North India in the 15th century. And the resultant bhakti movement contributed to a whole new range of lyrics and musical forms. The Radha-Krishna theme proved immensely popular along with the works of Mirabai, Surdas, Nandadas and Krishnadas.
  • Recognized by UNESCO under Intangible Cultural Heritage of India

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