Teejan Bai

Teejan Bai

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Category: Art

Teejan Bai Profile

  • Name:
  • Teejan Bai
  • Born:
  • April 24, 1956
  • Spouse:
  • Tukka Ram
  • Awards:
  • Padma Bhushan (2003)

    Padma Shri (1988)

    Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1995)

Teejan Bai Biography

Teejan Bai is an exponent of traditional art form, Pandavani – a form of folk theatre quite popular in Chhattisgarh and in the neighbouring tribal areas of Orissa and Andhra Pradesh, which enacts the stories of Pandavas of epic Mahabharata, using traditional music instruments. Teejan Bai is most renowned singer to this style, followed by Ritu Verma. She chose Kapalik style of Pandavani, which was regarded as the monopoly of male performers and gained fame and popularity. She is a recipient of Padma Shri in 1988, Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1995, and Padma Bhushan in 2003. Since early 1980s, she travelled all over the world as a cultural ambassador of India.


Teejan Bai was born in Ganiyari village, Chhattisgarh in 1956. She has four younger siblings. She used to hear Mahabharata recitals by her maternal grandfather and got drawn towards it. Later she trained informally under Umed Singh Deshmukh and gave her first performance at the age of 13 in the neighbouring village. She used Kapalik style of Pandavani which was traditionally used by men. Traditional women sing Vedamati, the sitting style while she opted the other one. She had to face a lot of oppositions from her community - 'Pardhi' tribe for performing in Kapalik style and she was ostracised by the community despite being married. She had to face a lot of hardships in her life to reach a position where she is right now.


Very soon she became popular and got invitations from neighbouring villages too, to perform at festivals and special occasions. Knowing about her, the famous theatre personality Habib Tanvir invited her to perform for then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi. This incident proved to be the real breakthrough of her career and later she travelled worldwide with her Pandavani. She is employed at the Bhilai Steel Plant and currently lives with her fourth husband.

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Updated: October 30, 2017

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