Odissi dancer and winner of many beauty pageants, Barsha Mohini Das, speaking exclusively to Natyahasini, says that she has been on stage since she was two-and-a-half-years old. “For the first time, I went on stage dressed as Lord Krishna for children’s competition during Janmashtami celebrations. I still remember I was just 2.5 years, when I went on stage and I was crying and looking for my mother in the audience. Also, the scene demanded that I cry for Makhan (butter) and people felt that it was part of the scene and I was awarded the First prize for it. At the age of three years, I was called as a little dancing Rasgola girl, and treasure many childhood memories and have won many trophies and certificates in all these years,” she recalls.
At the age of four years, Barsha’s mother Pravati Pattanayak enrolled her in the Orissa Dance Academy to learn Odissi under Late Guru Gangadhar Pradhan, a Padma Shri awardee. “I was so much in love with learning Odissi that I would complete my studies and other activities in time. Also, I learnt semi-classical and Contemporary dance to participate in competitions and returned home with lot of prizes and trophies. For all my wins, I give credit to my Maa, no doubt father was backbone, but Maa had taken all responsibility and struggles besides her job and family,” she reveals. The Odissi dancer also thanks her husband Rajendra Kumar Behera, who came into her life in 2020, for his unstinted support in all her endeavours.
Barsha was honoured as a child artist for her Nagin dance- “Mein teri Dushman dushman tu mera” and was referred as little Sridevi dancing on stage. “I won Odisha’s First reality Dance Show, Little Miss Odisha 1999, and marked my debut in an Odia Film, Sata Michha, as a child artist. As an Odissi dancer, Barsha has taken part in Group Dances in Konark Dance Festival, and Mukteswar Dance Festival, and Dhauli Festival to name a few. At the Orissa Dance Academy, Barsha was guided by Padma Shri Aruna Mohanty and was awarded the Rajiv Gandhi memorial award. From 2005 to 2011, Barsha successfully completed dance exams.
The demise of her father and grandfather in quick succession in 2010, left Barsha shattered. Also, the news of the death of her Guru Sri Gangadhar Pradhan that year left her numb. After finishing her graduation, she joined the State Government under R A scheme. Taking a four-year break from Odissi, she returned with a full grit and determination. Winner of the Miss Rajo Queen award in 2013, Barsha feels peace and contentment when she performs on stage. “So, with the blessing of God, I came under the tutelage of Guru Rojalin Mohapatra, Director of Debadashi Institute, in 2016. She started giving me personal training and since then there has been no looking back,” she says.
In the year 2020, Barsha has performed in various dance festivals that included the Navapallava, Dhara Shree, Odissi International Dance Festival and Nrutyanjali Dance Festival. “In 2022, I have been awarded for best talent in Odissi, Mrs India Kalinga Sundari award, Smruti Sadhana Women Achievement Award and the prestigious Rath Yatra Festival Chattisgarh,” she says and adds that she has performed in Siddarth TV for ‘Aigiri Nandini’, which is a runaway success.
Though Barsha hasn’t performed in Hyderabad in the pure classical form, she has performed in other categories. She says that she heard about participating in Parichay Season 2 in an Instagram post and quickly seized the opportunity. “The online Parichay Season 2 series is a great platform for dancers,” she says. The Odissi dancer states that participating in pageants gives her a larger platform for promoting Indian culture and also being a leading example for other women to be multi-tasker. “My sister always motivates me to take part in the beauty pageants,” she says.
Believing in the maxim that ‘Where there is the will there is the way’, Barsha acknowledges that achieving anything is possible with honesty, hard work, spiritual and karma. “I believe in myself and my God and have never betrayed anyone or anything and have always kept patience in any situation and God has answered all my prayers,” she says. Before signing off, Barsha says that she is thankful to her family and would love to dance till her last breath and surrender to God through dance.