President Pranab Mukherjee today condoled the death of Mrinalini Sarabhai, saying she has left an indelible mark on Indian classical dance.
Popularly known as ‘Amma’, Padma awardee Sarabhai passed away in Ahmedabad today due to age-related problems. She was 97.
In a condolence message to her daughter, Mallika Sarabhai, also an eminent dancer, the President said, “I am sad to learn about the passing away of your mother, Mrinalini Sarabhai. Mrinalini Sarabhai left an indelible mark on Indian classical dance as an eminent danseuse, choreographer and teacher.”
Educated at Shantiniketan and a disciple of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, Mrinalini was trained in Bharatnatyam, Kathakali and Mohiniyattom. Dance was her life, passion and existence, Mukherjee said.
“Mrinalini Sarabhai believed that the power of dance, music, arts and literature must be experienced by the common man. She was a poet and author as well as a dedicated activist who fought against dowry deaths, suppression of women and child labour.
“Sarabhai exemplified the fighting spirit of her mother and freedom fighter, Ammu Swaminathan and her sister Lakshmi Sehgal, who was Commander-in-Chief of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s ‘Rani of Jhansi Regiment’ of the Indian National Army. She was also an inspiration and support to her husband, Vikram Sarabhai, the father of the Indian Space programme,” the President said.
In recognition of her invaluable contribution to Indian classical dance and arts, Sarabhai was honoured with several awards, including Padma Shri in 1965 and Padma Bhushan in 1992.
“Her death leaves a void in the world of creativity and performing arts which will be difficult to fill. Her tireless efforts to spread Indian classical dance around the world will be always remembered.
“Please accept my heartfelt condolences and convey the same to the rest of your family members. I pray to the Almighty to give you and other members of the family strength and courage to bear this irreparable loss,” Mukherjee said.
“She was an inspiring teacher to thousands of students at her Darpana Academy and an exceptionally gifted and productive dancer, choreographer and writer.
“Mrinaliniji was, moreover, a staunch nationalist and patriot, who courageously defended our pluralistic culture and secular values. In this, she was upholding the proud tradition of her own parents who were such brave freedom fighters,” Gandhi said.
In her message to Mallika, the Congress President said: “At this time of grief you must draw solace from the fact that your mother must have taken great pride in the courage and conviction with which you yourself have always acted and spoken out against prejudice and discrimination, and that you carry forward her wonderful legacy as a dancer as well”.