The glory of Ganjam glitters on stage

Odissi dancers have revelled in performing to the poetic excellence and music traditionally contributed by litterateurs and art personalities from the district of Ganjam in South Odisha, but the adjectival reference ‘Ganjami’, in a mildly sarcastic tone, carries with it connotations hinting at a ‘dakhini’ (south Indian) influence. Historically, Ganjam boasts of its own rich cultural specificity, while being very much a part of the larger identity of the State. Though parts of Ganjam were with the Madras Presidency during British rule, the region’s shared border with south India, especially the Teluguspeaking region, influenced many of its performing art traditions. This whole area governed by the mighty, seafaring, Eastern Ganga dynasty, comprising great temple builders, also had marital relations with the Cholas. Veera Rajendra, the last of the great Chola line, had his daughter Rajasundari married to the Eastern Ganga prince, and the son of that union was Anantavarma Chodaganga. He played a major role in the establishment of the Lord Jagannatha temple (the presiding deity of Odisha even today) in the ancient city of Puri.