Baithak lavani exponent and Padma Shri awardee Yamunabai Waikar passed away on Tuesday morning (May 15). She was 102.

Waikar, who had complained of uneasiness, was admitted to the ICU at a hospital in Satara city, where she lived, on Monday, said a local government official.

Her remarkable journey

Yamunabai was born in Wai on 31 December, 1915. At the age of 10, she joined a folk art group from where she had her first lessons of Lavani. She was the eldest of five sisters.

At 15, Yamunabai formed her own lavani group with her sisters. It was known as the Yamuna-Hira-Tara Waikar Sangeet Party. Soon, offers to act in the `Tamasha’ theatre followed, and she became famous across Maharashtra

Yamunabai has also sung Thumri, Tarana and Ghazal.

“Yamubai’s expertise lay in classical lavani singing, along with enactment. Lavani is known for using metaphors and she would enact it beautifully to convey the various meanings. She used to sing lavani based on raagdari music,” said Professor Prakash Khandge of Lok Kala Academy, University of Mumbai.

She took retirement from active performance at 50. Yamunabai then began training younger artistes in lavani singing and also conducted lavani camps.

The lavani legend has also shared stage with renowned Kathak maestro Birju Maharaj. She had sung lavani and Birju Maharaj had performed on it. Folk experts recall that she was an expert in her art of facial expressions and would enthral the audience for hours.

Yamunabai has many awards to her credit, including the prestigious Sangeet Natak Akademi Award. She is the only lavani artiste to be honoured with the Padma Shri

Maharashtra Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao and chief minister Devendra Fadnavis condoled her death.

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Picture Credit: Deshdoot

Malvika Bansal is an intern with SheThePeople.Tv

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