In the latest news, Narthaki Nataraj who is a popular dancer from Tamil Nadu has become the first ever person from the transgender community to be conferred with one of the top civilian awards in India. The 54-year-old Bharatanatyam champion was among those honoured with Padma Shri, the third highest civilian award this year.
Hailing from the iconic temple town of Madurai, Nataraj learned the art under the astute teachings of Tanjore Shri K P Kittappa Pillai and also moved further to the Tanjore Quartet of Bharatanatyam (Nayaki Bhava tradition) through a dance school she established.
According to her website, Nataraj was subject to ‘social ridicule’ and ‘rejection’. However, her penchant for dance took her to Pillai who became her mentor. Nataraj, as a transgender, performed across the world. She is widely seen as an icon.
It should be noted that she made it to the school textbooks last year. It was indeed a proud moment! The Tamil Nadu School Education Department also introduced a lesson about Nataraj in the Tamil textbook for 11th standard students.