Delhi-based Bharatanatyam artiste Saroja Vaidyanathan dies at 86
Padma Bhushan Saroja Vaidyanathan had been battling lymphoma for some time. She passed away on September 21, in Delhi, at the age of 86.
Bharatanatyam guru, Padma Bhushan Saroja Vaidyanathan passed away in the early hours of Thursday, September 21. She was 86 and “battling lymphoma,” shares Rama Vaidyanathan, her daughter-in-law and Bharatanatyam dancer, adding: “Amma passed peacefully in her home in Delhi.”
The deceased artiste is credited with starting the Bharatanatyam academy, Ganesa Natyalaya, in the city, where she also resided and devoted her life to the art form. In her career spanning 50 years, Vaidyanathan choreographed more than 10 full-length ballets and nearly 2,000 individual Bharatanatyam items. To promote a holistic learning approach to the art form of Bharatanatyam, she taught Hindi, Tamil, and Carnatic music alongside the dance form to students.
“Even back in May, when she was battling cancer, when she performed in Hyderabad. Unfortunately, her health did not permit her to perform in Delhi last month,” informs Rama, adding, “Even so, she lived a full life which deserves to be celebrated and venerated. She has left behind hundreds of students who’ve been taught and mentored by her. She got all the recognitions and awards that an artiste could possibly get, and has seen four great-grandchildren. It was a life well led.”
Reminiscing how “she was a live wire in the Delhi scene,” Bharatanatyam exponent Geeta Chandran, shares, “The one thing I will always remember about her will be her firm belief in community. She was never one to see hierarchy or place weight on the senior or junior (on the) stage, but reached out to everyone the same way. She has created the Bharatanatyam community from the ground up in Delhi. Honouring and cherishing this community is the best homage to her.”
Sonal Mansingh, Bharatanatyam and Odissi guru and Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament, condoled Vaidyanathan's demise on X, formerly known as Twitter, with a photo of the two, writing, "Her contribution to the dance world has been immense her loss will be deeply felt amongst the dance fraternity."
Her last rites will be conducted at Lodhi Crematorium on September 22 at 2pm.