< Back
Hariram Kalindi, Natua

Hariram Kalindi was the most famous exponent of the Natua  tradition until his death in October, 2021.

He belonged to a family of traditional Natua dancers. His father, grandfather and their ancestors, were Natuas and his sons and grandsons carry on the legacy. Natua is a threatened form and there numbers have dwindled to only a handful of groups in all of Purulia. 

In the past, hundreds of young men from various communities used to train under his father and grandfather as Natuas. But the rigours of the dance demand abundant food, and the shortage of this eventually forced them to move away to other occupations.  Hariram was one of the lucky ones. Accustomed to performing only at local fairs near his village, he first came to the limelight in 1986 when the local authorities sent him to Delhi to perform at Apna Utsav. Recognized by the government after this significant event, he  travelled across the state and to  various part of India with his group. His sons have even performed in Paris, thanks to the efforts of an NGO. He  also performed for television shows and was easily recognized wherever he went. 

Hariram was never educated, opting to concentrate on dance rather than schooling. Given his obvious strength and good health, (he could lift huge dhaks and dhenkis with his teeth) he was offered a couple of jobs as a young man, in the police force and as a security guard. These too he turned down, declaring that he needed his dance more than wages.   A few years ago, he was offered yet another job by a supportive and sympathetic local administration that would support him in his old age. But Hariram  remained true to his calling and requested that his eldest son be given the job instead.

Besides teaching his two younger sons and grandsons, Hariram taught his art to at least 15 other young men from the Mahato and Bauri communities.  Though his strength was not what it used to be, Hariram continued to perform with his group, leaving the more arduous and extreme parts of the performance to the younger members. But his passion for the form remained undiluted. It was an inner calling. It was this that  fed his soul and gave him the motivation and strength to even walk all the way up to the Ayodhya Hills, several times over, to perform at fairs there. Even when he was not performing, he would spend his time singing the songs of Natua. 

In spite of the support that he had no doubt received in the last decade or so, life had always been tough for Hariram and his family. With no land to call their own,  the four or five annual performances they received (usually in the winter months) was the mainstay of their earnings along with a bit of bamboo basketry. The weaving is done by the women in the family and the baskets are sold at local fairs. 

Hariram had a favourite  story about the phenomenal strength of a Natua: One day,  a tigress and tiger were resting in a forest  when they spotted a  Natua dancer  returning home. The tigress challenged the tiger to overpower the man, but it was the Natua dancer who emerged the victor.   

His dance group, “Harijan Natua Nritya Hariram Kalindi” is now managed by his elder son, Gurupada Kalindi. 

Hariram Kalindi : Natua performance at ITC SRA - excerpt
Hariram Kalindi : The inimitable Natua dancer