Sanjukta Panigrahi

Sanjukta Panigrahi was born on August 24, 1944. She was an eminent Odissi dancer. She was the first Odia girl to embrace Odissi dance at an early stage. When she was small, she would dance to every rhythmic sounds like cutting of firewood and chopping of vegetables. Born in a Brahmin family, her father objected her dance. However, her mother stood by her and encouraged her to dance. She started learning dance from Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra at a very small age of 4. She participated in many competitions and won. When she was small, her biggest achievement and turning point of her career was her victory in the International Children’s Film Festival in 1952.

She was married to vocalist Raghunath Panigrahi. The initial year of her career was challenging, but her husband emerged as a fine vocalist and started rendering music for her performance. Sanjukta was honoured with India’s highest civilian award Padma Shri in 1975 for her extreme talent. The Sanjukta-Raghunath duo has given many outstanding performances and has enthralled the audience. In 1976, they jointly received the Sangeet Natak Academy Award. Apart from the awards she received, Sanjukta was also a part of Government’s cultural delegation to different countries.

She died of cancer at the age of 52, on June 24, 1997. After her death, her husband formed a trust in her name to promote Odissi dance.

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