Nartaki Natraj, First Trans Person, to Receive Padma Award

Bhubaneswar/New Delhi: The 2019 Padma Awards were announced by the Governemnt of India which has listed 112 persons for it (4 Padma Vibhushan, 14 Padma Bhushan and 94 Padma Shri).

Among those 94 Padma Shree awardees Dancer Nartaki Natraj (54), a Bharatnatyam dancer and Trans Activits hailing from Madurai, is one of them who is the first trans person to receive such a high ranked award.

She has specialised in the Tanjavur tradition of Nayaki Bhava. She also has founded a dance school where she teaches Bharatnatyam and is known for her reserch and performances around the world. She was trained under the veteran dancer K P Kittappa Pillai.

Her Early Life

She had left her home at a very young age, and fought for the cause and social problems which the trans people face. With her activities she soon got popularity and became an icon of the transgender empowerment in the field, mostly in Tamil Nadu.

Though suffering from poverty and various social stigma she fought for her passion in dancing and with the financial support of her childhood friend Shakti she manged to become a dancer.


An empanelled artist of the Ministry of External Affairs, Govt of India and a top grade artist with national television, Narthaki has been a recipient of the Kalaimamani award, the highest honour of the Tamil Nadu government and the Nritya Choodamani of the Sri Krishna Gana Sabha in 2009. The Sangeet Natak Akademi Puraskar (2011) and the Vetri Award of the University of Madras for performers from marginalised communities in society (2013) are among her other distinctions. Narthaki has a rare collection of Tamil literature, which she uses for research in her solo and group productions. Some of her dance productions are ‘Tamizh Amudhu’, ‘Siva Darisanam’, ‘Shakthi Darisanam’, ‘Kumara Vijayam’, ‘AranganVaibhavam’, ‘SwatantraVriksha’ and productions on contemporary issues.

About Padma Awards

Padma Awards were instituted in the year 1954. Except for brief interruptions during the years 1977 to 1980 and 1993 to 1997, these awards have been announced every year on Republic Day. The award is given in three categories, viz. Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri, in the decreasing order of importance. (Bharat Ratna is the first Highest Civilian Award)

  • Padma Vibhushan for “exceptional and distinguished service”. Padma Vibhushan is the second-highest civilian award in India.
  • Padma Bhushan for “distinguished service of a high order”. Padma Bhushan is the third-highest civilian award in India .
  • Padma Shri is awarded for “distinguished service”. Padma Shri is the fourth-highest civilian award in India.


About the Author

Upasana Bidika
Upasana Bidika has completed her Master Degree in Law from KIIT School of Law. However she has carved a niche for herself as a journalist. She can be contacted at