Renowned Puppeteer Padma Shri Maguni Kuanr passed away

Renowned puppeteer Padma Shri Maguni Charan Kuanr, a stalwart in the world of traditional arts, bid farewell to the mortal realm after battling a prolonged illness at the age of 88. The maestro, hailing from Keonjhar, Odisha, breathed his last in the comfort of his home, leaving behind a legacy etched in the annals of Indian cultural heritage.

Kuanr’s journey was one marked by unwavering dedication to the preservation and promotion of the traditional rod puppet dance form of Odisha, known as Kandhei Nach. Born in 1937 into a lineage of puppeteers in Keonjhar, he inherited the artistry from his father, Shri Baishnab Charan Kuanr. Under the guidance of traditional sculptor Shri Bhagaban Jena, Kuanr honed his skills not only in puppetry but also in the intricate realms of clay, stone, and wood sculpture.

His artistic endeavors were not merely personal pursuits but a mission to revive and propagate a fading art form. Through his troupe, the Utkal Vishwakarma Kalakunja Kandhei Nach, Kuanr transcended regional boundaries, captivating audiences with his mesmerizing performances. His dedication to every aspect of his craft, from puppet creation to storytelling, earned him accolades from prestigious institutions such as the Orissa Sangeet Natak Akademi and the North Orissa University.

In recognition of his unparalleled contribution to the preservation of cultural heritage, the nation bestowed upon him the prestigious Padma Shri in 2023. President Droupadi Murmu, in conferring the award, acknowledged Kuanr’s tireless efforts in keeping the tradition of rod puppetry alive and thriving. The honor affirmed his status as a guardian of cultural legacy, not just in Odisha but across the nation.

President Murmu, deeply saddened by Kuanr’s demise, expressed her condolences, acknowledging the void left by his departure. Through a heartfelt social media post, she lauded his remarkable legacy, a testament to his enduring impact on the world of traditional arts.

Kuanr’s influence extended far beyond the confines of his homeland. His participation in camps and workshops organized by institutions like the Orissa Sangeet Natak Akademi served as a beacon for aspiring artists, igniting a passion for traditional puppetry. His contributions were not just confined to India; they found resonance on the global stage, where his work was documented and celebrated.

As we bid farewell to Padma Shri Maguni Charan Kuanr, we celebrate not just the man but the rich tapestry of culture and heritage he wove through his artistry. Though he may have left this world, his legacy lives on, an everlasting testament to the power of passion, dedication, and the timeless allure of traditional arts. His departure leaves a void in the world of puppetry, but his spirit and contributions will continue to inspire generations to come, ensuring that the art form he cherished remains vibrant and cherished for years to come.

(With inputs from agencies)

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