Mumbai, Feb 22 (IANS) World-renowned doyen of Mohiniattam Dr. Kanak Y. Rele passed away in a private hospital here on Monday following a brief illness, plunging the world of arts into a pall of gloom. She was 85.
Rele is survived by her husband Yatindra Rele, son Rahul and daughter-in-law Uma, and two grandchildren.
She was accorded a cremation with full state honours at the Juhu Crematorium here on Wednesday evening.
Earlier, her mortal remains were taken to the Nalanda Dance Academy at Juhu where hundreds of her colleagues, past and present students including many top notch dancers in different dance forms, paid homage to her.
“The auditorium was full of over 300 disciples, with moist eyes, grieving for their favourite ‘Guru’, who was kept for darshan there,” said one of her associates and Odishi exponent Shubhada Varadkar after the funeral.
After a gun salute by the Mumbai Police, her body, draped in the national tricolour, was brought out for the final journey.
Later, her funeral cortege wended its way to the Juhu Crematorium where many more mourners joined and paid silent homage.
Ailing for over a week, Rele was admitted to a suburban private hospital where she breathed her last around 7.30 a.m., said the family.
Condoling her demise, Maharashtra Governor Ramesh Bais described her as ‘Nritya Tapaswini’, one of the finest exponents of Mohiniattam and Kathakali who dedicated her entire life to the cause of promotion, propagation and research of Indian classical dance forms.
“Dr. Rele made fundamental work in the field of dance through her Nalanda Dance Research Centre and the Nalanda Nritya Kala Mahavidyalaya. She trained hundreds of students and brought classical dance close to the people,” he said.
Many other prominent dignitaries from different walks of life and the national dance fraternity have grieved Rele’s passing.
Born in Gujarat and spending a part of her childhood in Kolkata, she started learning the Kathakali dance at the tender age of 7, from her Guru Panchali Karunakara Panicker.
Then, she pursued her academics, qualifying as a lawyer from Mumbai and in international law from the UK, besides holding a doctorate in dance from University of Mumbai.
After conducting detailed research into the dance forms from ancient texts, Rele developed her own style of Mohiniyattam, which was known as “Kanak Rele School”, revived and popularised the dance form adding a scientific temper and academic rigour to the art.
In her long and illustrious dance career spanning nearly eight decades, she was conferred the Padma Shri (1989), Padma Bhushan (2013), Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1994), Kalidas Samman (2006), M. S. Subbulakshmi Award and other accolades.