We start with the brilliant story of the first Odia woman to take Odissi global- iconic Sanjukta Panigrahi. Born on 24 August 1944 in Berhampur, she was the 1st Indian woman to embrace Odissi at age 4. Trained under Odissi Maestro Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, Sanjukta was a born dancer. She would dance to rhythmic beats of activities like firewood chopping, slicing of vegetables, etc. Back then, dancing was considered undignified. Despite belonging to a traditional Brahmin family, she broke these shackles, firmly supported by her Mother.

As a child artist, she participated in many competitions & won. Her career’s turning point was winning in International Children’s Film Festival (1952). She later left for Kalakshetra in Chennai to be tutored under Guru Rukmini Devi Arundale.

She married vocalist Raghunath Panigrahi at age 16. Initial years of married life were financially challenging, as they left Chennai & returned to Odisha. But her husband being a fine vocalist, started rendering music for her performances. The Sanjukta-Raghunath duo has given many stellar performances & enthralled audiences globally.

Sanjukta was honoured with Padma Shri (1975). In 1976, the duo jointly received Sangeet Natak Academy Award. She was also a part of Government’s cultural delegations to various countries.

On June 24, 1997, she died of cancer, aged 52. Later, Shri Panigrahi formed a trust in her name to promote Odissi Dance, which continues her rich legacy.


For Women's Day on March 8 2021, we present stories of 8 Inspiring Women of Odisha. For this, at the outset, we want to thank #bmcbhubaneswar @smartcitybhubaneswar for conceptualizing the Street
Art and Mural Project (STAMP) & making murals of fine women on Bhubaneswar's walls before #InternationalHockeyWorldCup2018. In busy city dwellers' lives, these 60 plus numbers of women's murals over a dedicated km-plus stretch of walls, have kept denizens connected to their awe-inspiring life stories. And Team Utkalamrita pays tribute to 8 such inspiring women, having done a humble photoshoot with these Larger-Than-Life Murals in the backdrop.

#womenempowerment #womensday #women

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