PARALAKHEMUNDI: Kalyani Gajapati on Friday became the first woman to head the Gajapati dynasty of Paralakhemundi. She was coronated after her father Gopinath Gajapati Narayan Deo passed away in Bhubaneswar.
“As per traditions of the palace, the coronation has to take place before cremation of the incumbent since due permission is required from the new head before the funeral,” said 85-year-old Deba Patnaik, a former employee of the palace. Gopinath Gajapati was coronated on May 25, 1974 after the sudden death of Krushna Chandra Gajapati.
Fifty-year-old Kalyani, who is a spinster, is the 17th head of the dynasty. She was away from Paralakhemundi in early years of her life as she pursued her education in Bangalore and Chennai but she used to visit the palace occasionally.
Kalyani returned to the palace in 2017 to look after the affairs of the Gajapati Palace after allegation of house arrest of her father and subsequent hospitalisation.
Earlier this year, Kalyani joined the Biju Janata Dal and had contested unsuccessfully in 2019 Assembly elections from Paralakhemundi constituency.
The coronation was done before the cremation of Kalyani’s father as per tradition and a ‘puja’ was performed at Ramaswami temple near the palace. Kalyani was taken in a procession to the Darbar Hall where she sat on the throne in traditional attire of a princess. After coronation, Kalyani issued her first order - the funeral of her father, as per palace tradition.