Mediating Odissi Culture: My Experience

Photo Courtesy: Susil Pani

Photo Courtesy: Susil Pani

by Saswat Joshi 

In 2006, I went abroad for the first time to South Korea with my Guru Dr. Ileana Citaristi to assist her with an Odissi workshop she was conducting. Being from the state of Odisha, that was the first time I felt like a true ambassador of Odiya culture. I began to think more in-depth about certain aspects of my culture that I had always taken for granted. One very simple example is attire: during the workshop I wore a dhoti, which I had always worn as a student at the Odissi Research Center. The workshop participants were quite excited to see me each morning because I was dressed in this traditional attire. Another example is that of “Guru Pranam.” Touching the Guru’s feet and taking their blessing was something the students were not familiar with. But every morning before the workshop session started, I would touch my Guru’s feet, as this is part of our tradition of learning dance, and something I was quite proud of. On the very last day of the workshop, without any prompting, the students came and touched our feet.

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