Friday 22 September 2023

Obit/Tribute - Saroja Vaidyanathan (1937-2023) Ashish Mohan Khokar

Delhi-based senior active guru Saroja Vaidyanathan is no more. Born in Bellary on 19 Sept, 1937, she passed away just a day after her 86th birthday, on 21st September 2023 in the wee hours of the morning, in her sleep, after a prolonged illness.

Saroja Vaidyanathan learnt Bharatanatyam from vidwan Kattumannar Muthukumaran Pillai's ace disciple in Chennai those days named K. Lalitha (Sastry) in Triplicane. Hers was a school (Saraswathy Gana Nilayam) where for five rupees (those days; today 5k!) one could learn any art form, mridangam or violin or dance. It is to Saroja Vaidyanathan's credit she mastered a form and after marriage to an IAS officer of Bihar cadre - where there was no eco system for fine arts, that too southern forms like BN - that she made it a point to propagate it and promote Bharatanatyam in Bihar in the 1960s and 1970s. She told me once, "Ashish, it was so difficult to even explain who Andal was sitting in a pandal. There was hardly any hall with proper stage in a state which was then backward."

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