Sitara Devi

Sitara Devi

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Category: Art

Sitara Devi Profile

  • Name:
  • Sitara Devi
  • Born:
  • November 8, 1920
  • Died:
  • December 25, 2014
  • Father:
  • Sukhadev Maharaj
  • Mother:
  • Matsya Kumari

Sitara Devi Biography

Sitara Devi is a famous Indian Kathak dancer from Kolkata. Seeing performing Sitara at the age of 16, Rabindranath Tagore called her as ‘Nritya Samragini’, meaning the empress of dance. She is widely regarded as the Kathak queen of India. Royal Albert Hall, London in 1967 and at the Carnegie Hall, New York in 1976 are a few of the most memorable live performances of this queen of Kathak. She has received numerous awards including Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1969) and the Padma Shree (1973), Kalidas Samman (1995), Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship and Nritya Nipuna. When she was given Padma Bhushan, she declined it saying it’s an insult and that she truly deserves Bharat Ratna, highest Indian civilian honour for her contributions to Kathak art form. Apart from Kathak dances, she is versed in a few folk dance forms and Bharatanatyam.


Sitara Devi was born in Kolkata on a Diwali day. She was named Dhanalakshmi as she was born on the auspicious day. Her family is originally from Varanasi. Her father, Sukhadev Maharaj was a Kathak dancer and Sanskrit scholar, who earned a living through performances and teaching. Her mother was Matsya Kumari. Sitara took lessons of Kathak and Bharatnatyam from her father. Sukhadev was one of the kathak lovers who wanted to keep alive this art form and he even approached Tagore with this effort. As they belonged to conservative Brahmin family, performances of Sitara and her sisters were not encouraged by society. They were even termed as prostitutes in that era when live performances of women were taboo for many Indian families.


When she was 10, she started giving solo performances. Her first public debut was at Jehangir Hall Mumbai and through hard work and dedication she became one of the top lady artists of Kathak in India. Her career spanned to about 6 decades or so.

She died on November 25, 2014, at Jaslok Hospital in Mumbai, after a prolonged illness.

Published: N/A

Updated: January 09, 2016


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