Padma Awards 2019: Nartaki Natraj, the first trans person to receive award
New Delhi, Jan 26: The Padma Awards for 2019 have been announced. This year's list comprises of 4 Padma Vibhushan, 14 Padma Bhushan and 94 Padma Shri awardees. Dancer Narthaki Natraj is the first trans person to receive a Padma award.
54-year-old Dr Nartaki Natraj is a Bharatanatyam dancer and trans activist from Madurai who specialises in the Tanjavur tradition of Nayaki Bhava. She has founded a dance school where she teaches Bharatanatyam, and is known for her research and performances around the world. She trained under veteran dancer K P Kittappa Pillai.
Narthaki left home at a young age, and fought the rampant social taboo that trans persons face. She soon became a symbol of transgender empowerment in the field, particularly in Tamil Nadu.
Braving poverty and social stigma, Narthaki followed her passion to become a dancer with the financial support of Shakti - her childhood friend.
An empanelled artist of the Ministry of External Affairs, Govt of India and a top grade artist with national television, Narthaki has been a recipient of the Kalaimamani award, the highest honour of the Tamil Nadu government and the Nritya Choodamani of the Sri Krishna Gana Sabha in 2009.
The Sangeet Natak Akademi Puraskar (2011) and the Vetri Award of the University of Madras for performers from marginalised communities in society (2013) are among her other distinctions.
Narthaki has a rare collection of Tamil literature, which she uses for research in her solo and group productions. Some of her dance productions are 'Tamizh Amudhu', 'Siva Darisanam', 'Shakthi Darisanam', 'Kumara Vijayam', 'AranganVaibhavam', 'SwatantraVriksha' and productions on contemporary issues.
The Padma awards 2019 are one of the highest civilian awards in India. They are announced before Republic Day every year to honour people in disciplines like art, social work, public affairs, science and engineering, trade and industry, medicine, literature and education, sports, civil service.
The awards are conferred by the President of India at a function in Rashtrapati Bhawan in March or April every year.