Google Doodle honors Rabindranath Tagore’s Empress of Dance
Honoring the great Kathak legend Sitara Devi, Google dedicated its doodle to mark her 97th Birth anniversary today. Born on November 8, 1920, on the eve of Diwali, Sitara started giving solo performances by the age of 10. She was born to a Brahmin family, hailing from Varanasi but living in then, Calcutta. Her father Sukhadev Maharaj was a school teacher but practices and performed Kathak often.
When her family shifted to Bombay, she gave her first Kathak performance in Atiya Begum Palace for a selected audience, which included freedom fighter Sarojini Naidu, Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore and Parsi philanthropist Sir Cowasji Jehangir.
While witnessing her dance, Rabindranath Tagore titled her as the Nritya Samragini, meaning the Empress of Dance. Her fan-base was not only limited to India, but she was internationally recognized too. Sitara has presented Kathak at international venues like the Royal Albert Hall in London and Carnegie Hall in New York.
The Kathak Queen has been honored with various awards including Padma Shree in 1973, Kalidas Samman in 1995, Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1969 and the India lifetime Achievement Award in 2011 for her contribution in the world of classical dance for over 60 years. In between all this, when Sitara was being awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2002, she took offence and turned down the award by saying, "I will not accept any award less than Bharat Ratna”.
Apart from solo performances, Sitara has been a part of the silver screen with movies like Mother India, Nagin and Roti. Also, she has been a guru to many famous Bollywood actresses like Madhubala, Rekha and Kajol. But while reaching her sixties, Devi stopped acting in movies as she feared it was affecting her dance.
Lastly, after a brief period of prolonged illness, Sitara took her last breath in the Jaslok Hospital, in 2014, Mumbai due to multiple organ failure.
But we can never forget such a great dancing legend ever.Rest In Peace the Empress of Dance!
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