Source: The Hindu; Author: Anjana Rajan; Photo Courtesy: Sangeet Natak Akademi

As the 20th Century saw India increasingly waking up to the call of Independence from British rule and eventually take its place among the nations of the modern political landscape, the arts were an enthusiastic part of this phenomenon, as traditional and sacred forms of expression were rediscovered and often repackaged to meet the contemporary world halfway and help a newly independent country take pride in its heritage. Mistakes too were made, and misunderstandings perpetuated, but that phase of nation building cannot be wished away. And there is no doubt it was laden with hope and a constructive energy. The 21st Century, though, is a sober reminder that nothing lasts forever. A determined wave of loss engulfs, one by one, the icons who made us proud to be Indians, the elders whose lives were their message. Among the latest to leave the flock and embark on his last journey was Guru Harekrishna Behera, Odissi dancer and preceptor to hundreds of students across the world.

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Odissi’s own Guru Harekrishna Behera. Photo Courtsey: Sangeet Natak Akademi