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Mardala maestro Guru Banamali Maharana passed away after prolonged illness in Bhubaneswar on Saturday.

Published: 18th November 2018 03:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 18th November 2018 11:20 AM   |  A+A-

By Express News Service

BHUBANESWAR: Mardala maestro Guru Banamali Maharana passed away after prolonged illness in Bhubaneswar on Saturday. He was 77. Guru Maharana was undergoing treatment at a private hospital where he breathed his last.

Guru Banamali Maharana

The percussionist, who was born on May 16, 1941 in Raghurajpur, made a mark in the Indian classical music scene through mardalaand ruled it for the last five decades. His tryst with the musical instrument began during his childhood when he had an affinity towards playing musical instruments. The exponent drew inspiration from ‘Raasleela’ authored by Mohan Sundardev Goswamy and began playing Khol and Dholak, but never received any formal training till he joined Annapurna Theatre in his 20s. At Annapurna Theatre, he learnt playing Mardala and Tabla from Singhari Shyamsundar Kar and Kshetramohan Kar. He honed his skill under the tutelage of Odissi legend Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra and started accompanying him as Mardala musician in Odissi performances.

Guru Maharana was also instrumental in bringing Mardala (Pakhwaj) to the course curriculum in Utkal Sangeet Mahavidyalaya. He included Plus Two and Plus Three courses on Odissi Mardala in the institution and continued to teach the subject there till he retired in 1999. Prior to that, he was a music teacher in Kala Vikas Kendra at Cuttack. 

He was also an accompanying percussionist for Odissi dancers like Sanjukta Panigrahi, Priyambada Hejmadi, Sonal Mansingh and Aruna Mohanty. For Aruna, he was a father figure. 
“I was introduced to Guru Maharana by my Guru, Gangadhar Pradhan. He was a very simple, humble and genuine human being. In fact, we were scared of Guru Pradhan but Guru Maharana spoiled us. He was a true artiste,” she recalled.

He had founded the Mardala Academy in Bhubaneswar, which hosts the Tala Badya Utsav every year celebrating the beauty of percussion music, Odissi Mardala in particular. For his contribution towards popularising and propagating Odissi Mardala, he was awarded the State Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1994, Central Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 2004, Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Award in 2008, Odissi Nrutya Samman 2015 and Kabi Samrat Upendra Bhanja Sanman in 2016, apart from being felicitated by several socio-cultural organisations.

Members of Odissi dance and music fraternity have condoled Guru Maharana’s death. His mortal remains were kept in Utkal Sangeet Mahavidyala for people to pay their last respects. 
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik also expressed grief at the demise of Guru Maharana. 
“Saddened to learn about the passing away of Mardala maestro Guru Banamali Maharana. The eminent percussionist’s invaluable contribution to Odissi tradition will always be remembered. My thoughts and prayers are with bereaved family members. May his soul rest in peace,” he twitted. 


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