NEW DELHI, April 3 — Datuk Ramli Ibrahim, Malaysia’s legendary choreographer and dancer of Indian classical dance, received India’s Padma Shri award, one of the country’s top civilian honours, in New Delhi yesterday evening.
Attired in a black Baju Melayu and a songkok, Ramli received the award from President Ram Nath Kovind at the Presidential Palace.
The award acknowledges 65-year-old Ramli’s 40-year career as a classical Oddisi dancer and trainer, his Bharatanatyam performances, and the setting up of Sutra Dance Theatre in Malaysia.
“The award is a boost to Sutra Foundation. There will be responsibility of rising up to the expectation of people who think that this award brings automatic success. I hope the award will help to foster more bilateral cultural links between Malaysia and India,” Ramli told Bernama.
“What is even more important is that our initiatives are not motivated by political or economic agendas but for the love of Indian arts,” he added.
Ramli, who presented his new Odissi production Ganjam in Uttar Pradesh state’s capital Lucknow on Sunday evening as part of a cultural tour, flew to New Delhi to receive the Padma Shri award.
Those who attended the awards ceremony included India’s Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and many federal ministers.
The fourth highest civilian honour in India, Padma Shri is given every year to people for their distinguished services in various fields such as arts, public affairs and sports.
As a special gesture to mark the silver jubilee of India-Asean relationship, the Indian government announced on January 25 that this year’s awards will also have 10 recipients from South-east Asia.
Ramli has choreographed stunning shows and nurtured dance talents from Malaysia.
Accomplished in ballet, modern, and Indian classical dance, he was awarded India’s prestigious Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for the year 2011.
Ramli said one of the tough areas at the moment is to get “sustainable funding for our artistic and cultural activities” and hopes the new Indian recognition will help his work.
“Definitely, work will continue as usual but I hope our obstacles will be lessened through this recognition,” he said. — Bernama