Radhe Shyam Barle, 54, received Padma Shri, India’s fourth highest civilian honor, for her contribution to art. A resident of Durg of Chhattisgarh, Barle has been associated with the state’s Panthi folk dance since his childhood. He has also taught dance across the country and abroad.

Panthi is mainly performed by men from the Santnami community during Magh Purnima on the occasion of Guru Ghasidas’ birthday. The songs are based on the teachings of Guru Ghasidas, Kabir and other spiritual poets. Barle has performed at various national and international events over the past two decades.

Barle’s contribution to the form of dance was such that there are today around 50,000 Panthi artists in the state. Panthi dance has made its mark not only in India but in 70 countries around the world.

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Born October 9, 1966, in Khola village of Patan tehsil in Durg district, Barle, besides MBBS degree, also holds degree in folk music from Indira Kala Sangeet University.

He has also presented various public welfare programs through this traditional folk dance including the dowry ban, the Clean India campaign and also made around 200 stage presentations on women’s empowerment, terrorism and separatism, etc.

Barle has also received the State Award for Social Consciousness Guru Ghasidas and Dalit Upliftment Award, Devdas Banjare Award, Dr Bhawar Singh Tribal Seva Samman, Social Harmony Award, Kalasadak Samman and Dau Mahasing Award. Chandrakar, to name a few.

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Baghel said Dr Barle made the state and country proud of practicing his art.

“Through the Panthi dance, Dr Barle has made an invaluable contribution to spreading Baba Guru Ghasidas’s message across the country and the world,” Baghel’s office said in a statement.