Legendary Danseuse Mrinalini Sarabhai passes away

The legendary danseuse and Padma Bhushan recipient Mrinalini Sarabhai, wife of the father of India’s Space programme Dr Vikram Sarabhai, passed away on Thursday at the age of 97. She was admitted to an Ahmedabad-based hospital on Wednesday morning after age-related problems where she breathed her last.

Popular known as “Amma” she was the founding director of Darpana Academy of Performing Arts. She is survived by her daughter Mallika Sarabhai, the well-known dancer and social activist and son Kartikeya, a noted environmentalist. It was her daughter Mallika Sarabhai who confirmed the news on her Facebook page. She wrote, “My mother Mrinalini Sarabhai has just left for her eternal dance.” Her final rituals will be performed at village Pethapur in Gandhinagar, which she used to visit frequently due to her keen interest in handicrafts.

A Malayali, she was born on May 11, 1918, in Kerala and came from a family of achievers. Her father Dr Swaminathan and her elder brother Govind Swaminathan were renowned barristers at the Madras High Court. Her mother, Ammu Swaminathan was a freedom fighter and her sister, Lakshmi Sehgal was the commander-in-chief of ‘Rani of Jhansi Regiment’ of the Azad Hind Fauj founded by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.

She spent her childhood days in Switzerland. She joined Santi Niketan founded by Rabindranath Tagore and also had a brief stint at the American Academy of Dramatic Acts in the USA. She was also a poet, writer and naturalist. Mrinalini is well-known for her experimental reforms in Bharatnatyam and Kathakali, which helped to preserve and popularise the traditional art forms.