Puppeteer Maguni Charan Kuanr of Keonjhar will be conferred the coveted Kabi Samrat Upendra Bhanja Samman for 2012 for his lifetime contribution to the field of performing arts. The award for 2013 will be conferred upon classical musician Damodar Hota.
The Samman, instituted by the Orissa Sangeet Natak Akademi, is the State’s highest honour for performing artistes. It carries a citation and a cash award of `50,000.
The Akademi on Friday also announced its other annual awards for the year in 15 categories. Each awardee will receive a citation and a cash award of `25,000.
Octogenarian Kuanr has been a pioneer in developing the ancient rod puppetry of Odisha.
He has successfully transformed the combination of dolls and rods into talking and moving rod puppets. He has won several awards and accolades including the Odisha Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1983-84.
Kuanr, the only exponent in the State when it comes to rod puppetry, has been performing for more than 50 years. He has composed more than 20 productions for his troupe, Utkal Biswakarma Kalakunja.
“My troupe has performed all over the State and even outside, many times. But awards and appreciations are not enough to save rod puppetry.
Lack of any financial support or proper forum to promote the art form is keeping away the younger generation from pursuing a career in puppetry that could lead to its extinction,” he said.
Hota, similarly, exemplifies the traditional singing style of the Gwalior Gharana. A former principal of the Utkal Sangeet Mahavidyalaya, he has also authored a number of books on Odissi and Hindustani classical music.
The Samman and awards will be presented at a special ceremony in the Capital next month.