About Pushpa Bhuyan
A synopsis on Late Pushpa Bhuyan (PADMASHREE)
1946 - 2015
Pushpa Bhuyan (Padmashree) is a Legend in the field of Indian Classical Dance and a household name in her homestate of Assam.

This Stalwart Icon from Jorhat, Assam had spent her Lifetime dedicated to Indian Classical Dances and was a Maestro of Bharat Natyam, Kathak, Kuchipudi, Manipuri and Assam's own Sattriya Nritya.

Even as a child, she absolutely knew that Classical Dance was her calling and embarked on a Lifetime Journey of Classical Dance which eventually led her to the Rashtrapati Bhavan, where she was honored with the prestigious PADMASHREE Award by the President of India in 2002.

Hailing from Jorhat, Assam, Pushpa Bhuyan (then Pushpa Bora) was one of the first few Assamese to venture into the prestigious field of Classical Dances as a serious professional. In fact she was the very FIRST ASSAMESE to learn Bharat Natyam in Kalakshetra, Chennai.

Born to Shri Thanuram Niamkora Bora a renowned cultural artiste of his time who was also the earliest Guru of Pushpa, she was deeply inspired and encouraged by her illustrious father to be a famous Classical Dance Artiste.
A Pioneer during her time, the journey of her ambition and destiny began in the year 1956. When she was in her teens, this determined young girl courageously travelled the almost impossible route from Jorhat, Assam to Chennai (Madras) to train in Bharat Natyam methodically in the world renowned 'Kalakshetra' under the direct tutelage of the illustrious Mega Guru - Rukmini Devi Arundale.

The great Rukmini Devi took a special interest in Pushpa who happened to be her FIRST disciple from the North East.

While in Kalakshetra , Pushpa learnt that real recognition of a Bharat Natyam dancer does not come from a diploma or degree from institutions or universities. It comes from the recognition given by the 'Sabhas' of Chennai by inviting a dancer to give a recital before their esteemed members ,learned audiences, dance aficionados and critics.

To perform Bharat Natyam in the Sabhas, it was essential that the "Nattuvangam" (the lead musician) was essayed by a well known Guru. Therefore, after Kalakshetra, Pushpa took Tanjorkar Kubernath Pillai as her Guru to learn the nuances of Bharat Natyam, adhering to Guru-Shishya Parampara. Kubernath Pillai was the nephew of the greatest Guru of this dance form - Chokalingam Pillai.

Pushpa, now 18 years old, gave performances in most of the Sabhas of Chennai with her Guru Kubernath Pillai as the Nattuvanar.

Later as well, along with her three daughters she continued performing in these Sabhas such as Narada Gana Sabha, Krishna Gana Sabha, Brahma Gana Sabha, also the Music Academy, all in Chennai.

Pushpa also had the privilege of training in the finer aspects of this Dance form from another great Guru - Muthaiya Pillai, who was the son of Chokalingam Pillai. This she did in Bangalore after her marriage to Naba Kamal Bhuyan who took up the position of General Manager in Mico Bosch in Bangalore.

She had the honor of learning the deeper nuances of Abhinaya from the legendary Gauri Amma.

Simultaneously, Pushpa learnt the Kathak Dance form from Guru Vishnu Vaishalkar who was a disciple of Sunderlalji of Jaipur Gharana and later of Guru Shambhu Maharaj of Lucknow. Pushpa was lucky to be introduced to both these through Vaishalkar.

By now Pushpa was comprehensively giving dance recitals all over India and abroad as a professional.

She had even performed before dignitaries and Royalty such as the then King of Nepal in Kathmandu, who graciously came up to the stage to for a photo call and congratulate Pushpa for her stellar performance.

Pushpa Bhuyan and her 3 daughters performed extensively all over the world in U.S.A., France, U.K., Belgium, Singapore, Thailand, Japan, Australia, and all the major places of India.

She also ran a Dance School in Melbourne, Australia and Lille, France.

During the celebration of the Fifty Years of Indian Independence, I.C.C. R. invited Pushpa and her troupe to be a part of a cultural delegation to U.S.A. where she performed in cities like Los Angeles, Salt Lake City etc.

She showcased Assam's own Sattriya Dance in her repertoire while performing in these cities.

Her Dance recital in Salt Lake City U.S.A. was attended by a large number of university students and professors of the city, along with the local governor.

Pushpa's dance recitals in India had been covered by the national media like The Hindu, Indian Express, Times Of India, Hindustan Times, The Stateman etc.

She had appeared on the cover page of Femina, Kumudam (the largest circulated magazine in Tamil language).

She had also appeared in the centre page of the erstwhile Illustrated Weekly of India.

In Australia, she was extensively covered by the internationally famous dance critic Ellin glick with two dozen photographs of her in different dance poses. Ellen Glick was assigned to cover her by the largest circulated, most prestigious English family magazine, "The Family circle".

She was featured in Dr. Sunil Kothari's book – 'Sattriya, Classical Dance of Assam'.

Pushpa was also classified as a Top Grade artiste by Doordarshan and gave some well admired performances in the prestigious National Program of music and Dance on Doordarshan.

She had the privilege of being made a member of Doordarshan's Central Audition Committee.

One of her big contributions to Assam was her classical dance institution "PUSHPANJALI CULTURAL ACADEMY" established in Guwahati.

She was the founder-director of "PUSHPANJALI CULTURAL ACADEMY" which is highly regarded as a reputed institution of Classical Dance in the North - East and regularly churns out praiseworthy Dancers with their Annual Diplomas in the 'PUSHPANJALI DANCE FESTIVAL'. The Pushpanjali Diplomas are greatly regarded all over India, in major Educational Colleges and Schools. More than 1000 students have graduated from Pushpanjali, over the years.

Pushpa Bhuyan, a true BEACON OF INDIAN CLASSICAL DANCES, was passionate about giving her best services to her homeland of Assam. She pledged to make hitherto difficult to access Classical Dances like Bharat Natyam within easy reach of the people of Assam by establishing her dance academy. She knew that there could be many inborn talents like her in Assam who are deprived of an opportunity to become quality classical dancers for want of methodical training. She desired that the youth of Assam be exposed to mainstream Indian Culture by training them in these classical dances, thus propelling the rise of awareness of Indian Performing Arts and enabling the Assamese public to be more learned and culturally inclined toward our Indian Heritage.

Pushpanjali has many specially composed Dance Dramas and Dance items in its repertoire. The USP of Pushpa Bhuyan's style of execution was that even fairly new students from Pushpanjali with little stage exposure compared to their seniors, were always encouraged by their Guru Pushpa Bhuyan to participate in all their Dance Ballet productions.

It is the policy of Guru Pushpa Bhuyan, Naba Kamal Bhuyan and Pushpanjali Cultural Academy to include and encourage fairly new students to stage exposure so as to build up self confidence among students.

As such she sky rocketed the popularity of Indian Classical Dances in Guwahati and other places in Assam.

This could only be achieved by her dedication to teach and spread the nuances of her craft through her dance academies in the capital as well as different parts of the state. Subsequently, there are now many Bharat Natyam schools being run by her disciples in various parts of Assam. Since these dance schools opened by her students sprinkled across the state, it only gave the Classical Dance movement a further shot in the arm. PUSHPANJALI CULTURAL ACADEMY has completed more than 25 (twenty five) years of glorious existence.

More than a thousand students have trained in Pushpanjali.

Many from underprivileged families who have graduated from this institution are now teaching Bharat Natyam to students on home to home visits, thus generating income to financially support their parents and families.

Pushpa Bhuyan had actively promoted Cultural exchanges thereby propagating and enhancing National Integration by inviting famous Indian Performing Artistes such as Smt. Hema Malini; Smt. Yamini Krishnamurthy; Shri Balagopal of Kalakshetra, Chennai, etc to participate in the 'Pushpanjali Dance Festivals' in Guwahati.

Her most notable achievement was in the up-gradation of Assam's "SATTRIYA" dance from a 'traditional' dance form to the status of 'Classical' dance.

She and her husband - Naba Kamal Bhuyan took up the noble cause of Upgrading the 500 year old dance form of Sattriya Nritya created by Sri Sri Sankar Dev and thereby giving it's rightful status of 'One of the Classical Dances of India'.

With a singularly focused zeal, they carried out an intensive and exhaustive research for several years, where Naba Kamal Bhuyan and Pushpa produced many papers and articles about this dance form.

In this context, Pushpa Bhuyan, Naba Kamal Bhuyan and their research team which included their daughter - Sangeeta Bhuyan Mehta - went deep into the Dance Villages Of Assam called 'Satras' and created a Documentary on the Sattriya Dance which was an Eye -Opener to the rest of India, indeed the World.

Doordarshan had engaged her and team to produce this Documentary which was much appreciated and created a major stir that was a stepping stone which led to the uprising of the hitherto unknown Sattriya Dance.

Pushpa Bhuyan and her Dance team comprising her 3 daughters and her students exposed the Sattriya Nritya to the world with their performances abroad and in India.

Her performances of Sattriya Dance in the National Program of Music and Dance, Doordarshan were telecasted many times on National TV in the 1990s.

Pushpa's Sattriya Dances at Delhi's packed Kamani auditorium was covered by all the national newspapers.

All these efforts by her made it possible for a large section of dance enthusiasts and critics to bring this dance form under a scanner.

It is just a coincidence that she performed the last recital of her life, a Sattriya dance performance, before an august audience of Sangeet Natak academy's governing body members in Guwahati. The same evening Sattriya Dance was declared as the Eighth Classical Dance of India by the Sangeet Natak Academy.

A major surgery in the spinal chord in early 2003 made her feet weak and she bid adieu to dance.

Thus the Sattriya Nritya got it's much deserved facelift and was declared as the 8th Classical Dance of India.

Indeed, Assam has much to be grateful for, towards this patriotic daughter of their soil!

Pushpa was the recipient of many awards and laurels both within her home state Assam and Nationally.

The crowning glory of her career was when she was bestowed with the esteemed PADMASHREE Award which is one of the highest national civilian honors from the government of India.

Pushpa Bhuyan was the FIRST ASSAMESE CLASSICAL DANSEUSE to receive this prestigious Award in the field of Classical Dance in the year 2002. This Landmark achievement thus paved the way for recognition of SATTRIYA and Assam's Sattriya Dancers consequently.

Smt. Bhuyan had been honored with other Awards such as AICA (All India Critics Association) Award for Best Classical Dancer: Lifetime Achievement Award by the television channel - N.E. TV, etc right up to the recently conferred "Great Indian Women Achievers Award" bestowed by the Indian Television Academy, Mumbai. The prominent among the awards accolade to her in Assam are Silpi Divas Award, Ambikagiri Award from Barpeta Sahitya Sabha and now the prestigious Kamal Kumari National Award.

Having been blessed with a beautiful body and face which even won her Beauty Queen titled awards, Pushpa had a tremendous stage personality besides exceptional grace which helped her to get a full house audience wherever she performed.

Her personal life was equally luminous. In 1965 at the age of 19, Pushpa married Naba Kamal Bhuyan, the man to whom she was attracted immensely even when she was only 10 years old.

Mr. NABA KAMAL BHUYAN, a prominent Sports personality of Assam has many 'FIRSTS' to his credit, the most prominent one being the FIRST ASSAMESE TO PLAY IN THE RANJI TROPHY CRICKET TEAM.

During his youth he was a University athletic champion and athlete.

Hailing from a Rai Bahadur family, N.K. Bhuyan was among the first two Assamese to have a Business Administration degree which he attained from Birmingham University, United Kingdom.

He has recently written a much admired book on the Democratic Condition of our country titled "An Immature Democracy Through the eyes of an AAM ADMI".

The couple are blessed with three daughters - Vanita Bhuyan Nagpal, Sangeeta Bhuyan Mehta, Rita Bhuyan Raheja (aka Simran Bhuyan Raheja) who are all accomplished classical dancers themselves now married to established businessmen.

In her latter years Pushpa and Naba Kamal Bhuyan lived in New Delhi permanently.

Pushpa Bhuyan attained the Lotus Feet of the Lord on 7th October 2015.