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Ramchandra Manjhi, Padma Shri Awardee And Popular ‘Naach’ Artist, Dies At 97

Manjhi was a famous performer of ‘Launda Naach’, a sub-set of ‘Naach’, in which men crossdress as women. His passion for the dance form even in old age has brought him several honours, including Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (2017) and Padma Shri (2021).

Ramchandra Manjhi
Ramchandra Manjhi (Image: PTI)

Patna: Padma Shri awardee Ramchandra Manjhi, whose performance in Bhojpuri folk dance ‘Naach’ for eight decades has helped the preservation of the ailing art form died in a hospital here after a prolonged illness, his family said on Thursday.

Manjhi, who was 97, left behind four sons and two daughters. The folk dancer was admitted to the Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences on September 2 with heart-related issues and other ailments. He died on Wednesday night.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar expressed grief at Manjhi’s death.

“Ramchandra Manjhi’s demise is an immeasurable loss to the world of Bhojpuri folk, art, dance and culture. He was a great folk artist. My condolences to his family in this hour of grief,” Kumar said in a condolence message.

Manjhi was a famous performer of ‘Launda Naach’, a sub-set of ‘Naach’, in which men crossdress as women. His passion for the dance form even in old age has brought him several honours, including Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (2017) and Padma Shri (2021).

Born in Saran district in Bihar in 1925, Manjhi was the last scion of the legendary Bhikhari Thakur’s ‘Naach’ form of folk dance. He was one of the members of the original troupe of Bhikhari Thakur, known as Shakespeare of Bhojpuri language.

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Manjhi was presently associated with the Saran-based Bhikhari Thakur Repertory Training & Research Centre, a troupe run by Jainendra Dost, a filmmaker and a renowned artist.

Dost told PTI: “Manjhi ji passed away at 11 pm on Wednesday. He had been suffering from heart-related ailments for long. His condition worsened yesterday”. Bihar Art and Culture Minister Jitendra Kumar Rai said his demise “has left a huge void in the Indian folk art, music and cultural field”.

Deepak Anand, Additional Secretary to the Art, Culture and Youth department described, told PTI: “Manjhi ji’s contribution to the field of Indian folk dance is incomparable and he will be remembered for it.”

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