Group: Sheetla Prasad and Group
A 50-year-old artist from Ayodhya, Sheetla has been working towards reviving the ancient folk music and dance art forms of Awadh for over two decades. Dedicating his life towards the folk music community through the revitalization of long-lost art forms like Phurwahi, Keharwa, Jogni, Karinga, and other ages-old forms of folk art, he has set out on a mission to make the artists of Awadh self-sustaining. He considers Swargya Srinivas Das as his guru and speaks very highly of his teachings and his calibre in the field of music. Most of the songs that he performs are thus, made to be in a similar style. His primary focus is to eliminate the crudity that the modern culture has induced in these art forms recently due to dilution over the years. He sings along with the musicians, directs the acts, and does the choreography for the dance group for their performances. Over the years, Verma Ji has developed various creative ways to present the dance on stage. He has done a lot of shows, not only within the Awadh region or the state of Uttar Pradesh but across multiple states of the country. Belonging to the Awadh Gharana, he also writes his songs and considers Rupak and Dadra to be his favourite taals. He has pulled off brilliant performances at multiple festivals in Assam, Orissa, Punjab, and many more states of the country to amaze the crowds with his energetic singing and choreography. Despite being a government employee at the District Magistrate, he finds time to strive to keep developing his craft and dreams to fulfil his goal of promoting the cultural music of Awadh while preserving its authenticity. He aims to make Ayodhya known not only for being the birthplace of Lord Ram but also for a city with a rich culture. Verma Ji wishes to have a good corner of the city dedicated to the art forms that he is trying to preserve.
- Uttar Pradesh