SP Balasubramaniam, Shinzo Abe, Gussadi trainer Kanaka Raju among Padma awardees

Deccan Chronicle with agency inputs  | Pillalamarri Srinivas

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Kanaka Raju has strived hard to make Gussadi dance unique in the past 50 years

This year the President has approved 119 Padma awards. The list comprises seven Padma Vibhushan, 10 Padma Bhushan and 102 Padma Shri Awards

Adilabad / New Delhi: Singer S.P. Balasubramaniam was posthumously conferred the Padma Vibhushan on Monday, the eve of Republic Day. The nation’s second-highest civilian honour was also conferred on former PM of Japan Shinzo Abe.

Former Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan, former chief ministers Tarun Gogoi of Assam and Keshubhai Patel of Gujarat were posthumously conferred the Padma Bhushan, as also prominent Islamic scholar Kalbe Sadiq.

Telangana state got one honour. Dance trainer Kanaka Raju, 80, who has been struggling to keep the traditional Gussadi dance alive, was selected for Padma Shri in the art category. Raju is a native of historical Marlavai village in Jainoor mandal of Komaram Bheem Asifabad district.

As the news spread on Monday, the entire Marlavai village celebrated the success story of Kanaka Raju and distributed sweets among themselves.

Kanaka Raju and Lachu Patel were popular dance masters or trainers in their traditional Gussadi and Dhimsa dances respectively. Lachu is no more.

This is probably the second Padma Shri award given to someone from erstwhile Adilabad, after the honouring of internationally famous Kuchipudi dancer Raja Radha .

Deccan Chronicle had highlighted Kanaka Raju’s contributions to traditional Gussadi dance and carried a report on him in December, 2018.

Speaking to Deccan Chronicle, Kanaka Raju expressed happiness on being conferred with Padma Shri and said this came as a recognition to the hard work he did to keep alive this dance form. He thanked the state and Central governments for recognising his services as a traditional dance trainer.

Kanaka Raju has strived hard to make Gussadi dance unique in the past 50 years. He had spent long years in the old Adilabad district and in bordering Maharashtra. With his efforts, Gussadi dance has emerged as a popular and unique dance form not only among the Adivasi communities but also non-tribals and foreign tourists.

Gussadi dance was shown prominently in the movie ‘Baahubali’. Kanaka Raju is a popular dance masters in traditional Gussadi.

Lachu is no more but Kanaka Raju, 80, of Marlavai of Jainoor is popular even today as the Gussadi master among the Adivasis in the region where he has been training hundreds of Adivasi teenagers. With this, Adivasi festivals are rich with the preserved dances and traditions and the rituals they perform on special occasions.

Kanaka Raju had led a Gussadi cultural troupe to Delhi and performed before the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and President Zail Singh. Kanaka Raju said that after performing the Gussadi dance before Indira Gandhi, he presented her a 'topi' (cap made of peacock feathers) and 'Rokal' (a wooden stick) to her as gift in 1981.

The then ITDA assistant project officer, the late Madavi Thukaram, an Adivasi, had shown special interest in tribal traditions and cultures and made serious efforts to preserve them for future generations.

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