Violinist Lalgudi Jayaraman, actor Shreeram Lagoo, Bharatnatyam exponent Yamini Krishnamurti, Sanskrit theatre scholar Kamlesh Dutt Tripathi and classical music maestros Pandit Jasraj and Kishori Amonkar were Tuesday conferred the Sangeet Natak Akademi awards by President Pratibha Patil.
The six legendary artists were given the Akademi Ratna, the highest honour among the Akademi awards. Addressing the ceremony, Patil said: "Culture is a source of pride for all people, nation and societies. The award is a time to recall our own highly evolved and rich culture. Dances with their rhythms and expressions, music with its different 'gharanas', folk performances with their multiplicity of local themes and local dresses bring to mind a powerful idea of India and its civilisation."
"Art and culture, music and literature not only give an identity to a country, but also become the means to celebrate life itself. Dance and music in India have closely been associated with the change of seasons, cycle of agriculture, ceremonies of birth and marriage," she added.
Patil further said that "material prosperity through the application of science and technology is no doubt essential for any modern community. But economic progress by itself in a cultural vacuum would be soul-less".
"Rejuvenation of arts has been an inevitable accompaniment of our national growth... Fine arts sharpen our sensibilities as human beings and make life worth living. Society, therefore, has a great stake in the artistic genius of gifted individuals and they must receive our encouragement and appreciation," the president said.
Awards were also given to Abdul Rashid Khan and Vasundhara Komkali (Hindustani vocal), Lachman Singh (tabla) and Ali Ahmad Hussain (shehnai), while Parassala B. Ponnammal was recognised in the Caratic vocal field. U. Srinivas (mandolin) and Dandamudi Sumathi Rama Mohan Rao (mridangam) were honoured for their contribution to Carnatic instrumental music.
L. Ibohalmacha Singh (Nata Sankirtana) received the award for other major traditions of music.
The dancers conferred the award wer Ananda Shankar Jayant (Bharatanatyam), Prerana Shrimali (Kathak), Kalamandalam Rajan (Kathakali), L. Bino Devi (Manipuri), Geeta Mahalik (Odissi), Vyjayanthi Kashi (Kuchipudi), Daksha Sheth (Creative & Experimental) and Kala Krishna (Andhranatyam).
Playwright Vayala Vasudevan Pillai (Malayalam), actors Sudha Shivpuri and Neeta Mohindra, directors Joy Michael and Dinesh Thakur along with 10 other traditional, folk tribal artists were also given Sangeet Natak Akademi fellowships.