In the realm of classical dance, preserving and promoting traditional gharanas (styles) is of paramount importance. The 3rd Debadhara Award, held on September 1, 2016, was a testament to this endeavor. Spearheaded by the young and talented Odissi Guru, Binayak Panda, the event showcased a plethora of performances that celebrated the unique style of the legendary Guru Debaprasad Das. Through his organization Debadhara-Delhi, Binayak Panda strived to ensure that the legacy of Guru Debaprasad Das remained alive and thrived among the generations to come. The award ceremony and accompanying festival held at the India International Centre in New Delhi were a resounding success in their mission to promote the brand Debadhara and the invaluable contributions of its founder.

Honoring Late Guru Debaprasad Das

Guru Debaprasad Das, a luminary in the world of classical dance, left behind a rich heritage, particularly in the realm of Odissi dance. Unfortunately, over time, his unique gharana faced the risk of fading away. Recognizing this, Binayak Panda, a disciple of Guru Gajendra Panda, took upon himself the responsibility to preserve and promote Guru Debaprasad Das’s legacy. Establishing Debadhara-Delhi, Binayak worked tirelessly to train and groom dancers in the distinctive style of his guru.

Instituting the Debadhara Award

As a befitting tribute to Guru Debaprasad Das, Binayak Panda instituted the prestigious “Debadhara Award.” This annual award honored distinguished artists in the field of Indian Dance Forms, recognizing their exceptional contributions and dedication to their art. The award ceremony served as a platform to celebrate the essence of classical dance and the brilliance of the artists who have dedicated their lives to its pursuit.

The Extravaganza: Day One

The inaugural evening of the 3rd Debadhara Award was a mesmerizing showcase of talent and artistry. The event commenced with a soul-stirring Vishnu Vandana invocation presented by the students of Debadhara-Delhi, choreographed by Guru Gajendra Panda. The evening then transitioned into the award ceremony, honoring esteemed artists who have made an indelible mark in their respective dance forms.

Performances that Enchanted the Audience:

Bidushi Sasmita Pal from Singapore, Padmashri Bharati Shivaji, Padmashri Geeta Mahalik, Guru Jayalakshmi Eshwar, and Guru Ranjumoni Saikia were among the awardees on the first evening. Their captivating performances left the audience spellbound.

Bharati Shivaji’s Mohiniyattam invocation of “Bala Ganapati” poetically depicted the dalliance of Shiva and Parvati as elephants with baby Ganesh. Geeta Mahalik’s Odissi abhinaya pieces wove magic, and Jayalakshmi Eshwar’s vibrant Bharatanatyam performance resonated with glimpses of Swarajati.

The Extravaganza: Day Two

The second evening was equally enchanting, featuring invocatory Pushpanjali and impressive Ram Bhajan choreographed by Guru Gajendra Panda. The award ceremony honored renowned Gurus Gajendra Panda (Odissi), Shashadhar Acharya (Chhau), Rani Khanam (Kathak), and Manju Elangbam (Manipuri).

Powerful Performances that Mesmerized

Shashadhar Acharya’s Seraikella Chhau performance of the “Raatri” fairy tale world dazzled the audience, while Rani Khanam’s brilliance in the nritta sequences of her Kathak was evident. Manju Elangbam’s presentation of “Krishna Saranam Abhinaya” showcased a fantastic stage presence and supreme grace.


The 3rd Debadhara Award and the accompanying festival were a celebration of the timeless art of classical dance, with a primary focus on preserving the unique gharana of Guru Debaprasad Das. Through his organization Debadhara-Delhi, Guru Binayak Panda’s efforts to train and promote this style have borne fruit, inspiring a new generation of dancers. The award ceremony and performances served as a reminder of the depth and diversity of Indian dance forms, carrying forward the legacy of Guru Debaprasad Das and enriching the cultural fabric of India. Brand Debadhara shines as a beacon of artistic brilliance, keeping alive the essence of classical dance and its profound impact on society.