PADMASHREE LATE H.H. Rajamata Goverdhan Kumari
Rajmata Goverdhan Kumari of Santrampur, The daughter of H.H. Maharaja Yangyanarayan Singhji of Krishangarh, Rajasthan, was born in 1938. The rich atmosphere of different styles of music and art that were enjoyed during her childhood in the Kishangarh Palace made a deep impression on her.
Appreciating the significance of Indian Classical dance forms, she studied Bharatnatyam, Kathakali and Oddissi. She never performed on stage because of her Rajput traditions. She learnt Haveli Sangeet and Rajwadi folk music from Kishangarh Palace court singer Lalita Bai. She also learnt Indian Classical singing from Pundit Amarnathji (Delhi).
Her late husband H.H. Maharaja Krishna Singhji of Santrampur (Gujarat) provided the necessary support and encouraged her to pursue a hobby into a lifelong ambition and revive the traditional Rajput folk dance in order to preserve its authenticity. She had researched different aspects of Ghoomar over the past many years. To facilitate the strict discipline required, she initiated her pupils with Classical dance movements starting with footwork and progressing into hand movements.
Gangaur Ghoomar Dance Academy
In 1985, she formed a group of dancers, “Gangaur Ghoomar Dance Academy”, in which she volunteered to teach Ghoomar to students regardless of their caste, religion or community. It is the only academy in India presenting the authentic Rajwadi form of Ghoomar. She has been the only lady from all the royal families who revived this dance form.
While accompanying her brother Late H.H.Maharaja Sumer Singhji of Kishangarh, to Rupangarh and Karkeri, she was fascinated by the Gujar women and their dance. These women lit fire on top of metal pots to provide light, while some women gracefully danced with these fire-lit metal pots, balanced on their heads. This dance form is known as Chari Nritya
In 1960, at the Gangaur Festival held at Krishangarh Palace, she choreographed a synchronized form of the rustic Chari Nritya, which was performed in public. She decided to make Chari Nritya more popular and asked Late Phalku Bai (Raj Malan of Kishangarh) to form a group of dancers. They started performing with other dancers at festivals and other occasions in the year that followed.
Today Chari Nritya of Kishangarh is one of the most colourful, lively and popular dances of Rajastan. Rajmata Sahiba has been instrumental in giving Thali Nritya a Rajwadi charasteristic. In it’s original form of Naach, the dance is performed either solo or as a duet. By adapting movements, she choreographed a group of dancers to perform Chari Nritya.
She conducted workshops in various parts of India to revive and teach this dying art form to the new generation.
In 1995 she was honoured by Marudhara, a Rajasthani Association based in Kolkata, with the M.P. Birla Award.
The Government of Nigeria conferred upon her an award for promoting National Heritage in the year 1997.
She was also honoured by the Mewar Foundation with the Dagar Gharana Award in the year 2001.
In 2007 she was honoured with the Padmashree by the Government of India for reviving and preserving the authentic Ghoomar dance form.
In the year 2008, she was given an award by the Indian Vegetarian Congress as recognition of her being vegetarian all her life.
She travelled extensively with Gangaur Ghoomar Dance Academy to countries like USSR, USA, Venezuela, Ghana, Nigeria, Morocco, Ivory Coast, Trinidad Tobago, UAE, Oman, etc.
Rajmata Sahiba had trained several students from various parts of the country and has given many successful performances both in India and abroad.
To fulfil her promise made to Sanjay Leela Bhansali in 2003, her student and Asst. Director of the Academy, Jyothi D Tommaar trained Deepika Padukone for Ghoomar in the film Padmavaat.
Her mission was to revive and promote the Rajput Women’s elegance and femininity through Ghoomar.