Padma Bhushan award winner and renowned Bharatanatyam guru, Saroja Vaidyanathan, passed away on Thursday, aged 86. The news of her passing was confirmed by her daughter-in-law and Bharatanatyam artiste, Rama Vaidyanathan, who revealed that Saroja had been battling lymphoma and she peacefully passed at her residence in Delhi.
Saroja holds the distinction of establishing the esteemed Bharatanatyam academy, Ganesa Natyalaya, in the city where she resided. Over a career spanning five decades, she dedicated herself to the art form, leaving an indelible mark on the dance community.
Despite her health challenges, she remained dedicated to her art, performing in May 2023 in Hyderabad. Though regrettably, her health didn't permit her to grace the stage in Delhi last month, as shared by Rama. Reflecting on her legacy, Rama emphasised that Saroja's life was deserving of celebration and veneration.
“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,” Rama was quoted as saying.
Geeta Chandran, a prominent Bharatanatyam exponent, fondly recalled Saroja as a ‘vibrant presence in the Delhi cultural scene.’ Geeta emphasised Saroja's firm belief in fostering a sense of community within the Bharatanatyam sphere, saying, “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.”