Eminent danseuse Gurubari Mirdha passes away
Because she took birth on Gurubar (Thursday), parents kept her name Gurubari, which is a practice people follow in most part of the State. And, finally she also breathed her last on a Thursday.
Gurubari Mirdha from a nondescript village in Bargarh district left a void as she passed away recently with people of the State, particularly art connoisseurs, still remembering her sterling performance as a noted Sambalpuri and Dalkhai dancer. She had tremendous contribution to popularize Sambalpuri and Dalkhai dance in the country and singularly she was enough to keep the audience spell bound for hours together through the beats of her feet. Not irrelevant to mention that she even made former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to dance on the stage with her as Gandhi as an audience could not help it before the enthralling dance Gurubari was performing in Delhi.
But with so much talent in her, she was unable to cash in on it for her financial security. Almost during her entire life period, she was living a very miserable life. As a BPL person, she had been allotted an Indira Awas, but that she couldn’t be completed as yet.
In the year, 1987, an Odia vernacular daily carried a detail story about her poverty that drew the attention of the people abroad. And, moved by the report, Odia artist from Sweden PK Mahanadia wrote a letter to Surendra Hota of Bargarh expressing his willingness to help her financially. But at that time Gurubari couldn’t be traced as she went out of the State as a Dadan Shramik (migrant labourer) to another State.
“Think the fate of a versatile dancer opting to work as a Dadan Shramik with whom the Prime Minister of India had once danced. This is also fate of many people in Odisha who came in direct contact with many dignitaries, but remain poor forever. The case of Fanus Punji of Kalahandi is another bright example,” said Sureswar Satapathy, an elite citizen of Bargarh.
Under her guidance, a college teacher in Bargarh wrote a short play entitled ‘Lekri’ (torn up clothes ) that narrated the poverty of the versatile lady artist. The play depicts how all prizes, medals, felicitations and citations etc were meaningless for her and she needed money for survival that nobody gave her. But that drama couldn’t be staged as yet although it was completed when Gurubari lived.
“Till end of her life, a small pension from the Government and mercy of the villagers was the main source of her livelihood,” said her villagers.