Roma Dasmohapatra’s Take on Odissi and Mahari

Leading Odissi dancer Roma Dasmohaptra needs no introduction. She has been enthralling the audience across the globe with her tremendous dance performance skills since a long time. She is an icon in Mahari Devadasi Dance and her rigorous effort to take the ancient dance form to peak is undoubtedly commended.

roma -3Roma has always been a major attraction at almost all Devadasi dance festivals in Odisha as well as abroad. She has received much applause, honours and awards for her dance performance. However, the adorable lady in Odissi and Mahari never perform on the stage for awards or money. For her, Odissi is a passion and she wants a special status for Mahari, which has given birth to the present day classical dance of Odissi.

However, the artist expresses less satisfaction over the present trend of Odissi. “As we witness pollution in every sphere, how Odissi will be exempted? The classical form has been commercialized, audience used to watch not with enthusiasm. Hardly do I notice a good audience who knows about Odissi. They used to enjoy the dance with alcohol or cigarette. The environment for performing Odissi exists nowhere in this world”, said Roma, who has been practising Odissi when she was only 4 and half-year-old.

Roma is the inspiration for many, who want to pursue this classical dance as their career. The talented Odissi and Mahari dance performer has founded a Trust known as ‘Achyutant’ for poor girls, who have dance skills but do not afford the high price demanded by the reputed dance schools in the state. Apart from Odissi, she pays more attention to Mahari. The recent Mahari dance performance at HAUZ KHAS JAGANNATH TEMPLE in New Delhi on July 14, showed her inclination to the Devadasi Dance. She is a known face in this particular form of dance that the devadasis used to perform for the deities of the temple.

In fact, Mahari Dance originated in the temples of Odisha. The Devadasis are the dancing girls, who dedicate their life to Lord Jagannath. The Devadasis are the ‘Maharis’ and the dance performed by them later came to known as ‘Mahari’ Dance. This is a very pious dance, which is performed before the Lord. The love of the devadasis for Lord Jagannath is highlighted during the auspicious occasions like Bada Singhara Vesa, Ratha Yatra, Jhulana Yatra, Dola Yatra, etc.

However, Roma wants this classical form should not be confined to temples only. She is performing it everywhere. It is her efforts that the sacred dance is being recognised by a large number of people across the world. “I do not perform it for the sake of money or reward, but it should not be commercialised like Odissi. Of course, a holy environment is required for Mahari dance, and both performers and the audience should follow certain rules”, Roma shared her feelings to “The News Insight”.

Usually, we dance for laughter, we dance for tears, we dance for madness, we dance for fears, we dance for hopes, we dance for screams, but Roma is a dancer who creates dreams and tries to make it true. The veteran’s identity is not confined to Odissi and Mahari dance. She also runs an Ad agency “Rade Vibes” in the state capital and produces and extends her helping hand to poor girls and deprived kids through charity.

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