I am the second daughter of Praveen Chandra Bhanjdeo who is the 47th ruler of the Bhanja dynasty, which was formed in the erstwhile princely state of Mayurbhanj, now part of Odisha an eastern state in India.
My father’s mother is Maharani Bharati Rajya Lakshmi Devi, daughter of His Majesty King Tribhuvan of Nepal, aunt of present King of Nepal. My mother is Rashmi Rajyalaxmi Bhanjdeo who is from the royal family of Jaisalmer, the biggest state in Rajasthan. Her father was the Maharaja Raghunath Singh Bahadur and her mother is Maharani Mukut Rajya Lakshmi Devi, daughter of General Shri Sharada Shumshere Jung Bahadur Rana, the last prime minister of Nepal and from the aristocratic Rana lineage of Nepal.
I attended the United World College of South East Asia in Singapore for my schooling and later University of Virginia to pursue a degree in Sociology and Business. After college, I moved to New York City after getting a job at Puig. I pursued the opportunity to work with Puig as the strength of Puig lay in its ability to build brands, to shape the image of brands through fashion, and to translate that same image into the world of fragrance through storytelling and product excellence. I wanted to be able to learn from that and bring global solutions to a local challenge.
I am the owner of the 200-year-old Belgadia Palace in Mayurbhanj and along with my family are working towards building sustainable tourism with social impact at its core to the Adivasi-dominated region. I am also a certified Hatha & Yin Yoga teacher, practising in South Asia for the past 6 years.
Reminiscing my childhood days, as a young child I remember the women of the house coming together in the Zenana (women's chambers) by hand collecting, curing & fusing the healing ingredients of the hibiscus flowers, and creating this elixir for all of us at the Royal household, storing them in the kansa bowls, like precious stones in hand carved boxes, in the Rasoighar near the black stone mortar and pestle used for grinding the flower. The overpowering fragrance and the joyous comradery between the women of different ages, languages, bonded together in the making of the products stayed with me i.e the strength in the diverse communities. The women of the Mayurbhanj households have come from far away lands such as Nepal, Rajasthan and Gujarat.
The curation of the three beauty products beautifully showcase the mélange of the communities and their indigenous knowledge of flora and fauna present in Odisha’s largest district - Mayurbhanj.
The Mayurbhanj collection was inspired by beauty secrets passed down by women of the erstwhile royal family and pays homage to the indigenous groups who have resided in the state. The name of oils is based on the Santhali words ‘kukumu’ meaning dreams, phakura means ‘wings’ and ‘baha’ means hibiscus. The copper wing face tool ‘phakura’ is special as they were inspired by the wings of the peacock from our family emblem, and were reminiscent of the ‘kansa’ pots we used in our rasoi ghar.
Mayurbhanj (my home town) is a thriving melting pot of over 30 different indigenous communities, hosts a plethora of festivals, languages, artistic practices, and ancient cuisines. The rolling tropical green hills and the majestic waterfalls exemplified by the mythic Simlipal Elephant and Tiger Reserve, which boasts a mighty array of indigenous flora and fauna influenced my pallette, my taste in adornment, knowledge of ancient healing plants, and most importantly humanities collective oneness with nature.
The Mayurbhanj collection was inspired by beauty secrets passed down by women of the erstwhile royal family and pays homage to the indigenous groups who have resided in the state. The name of oils is based on the Santhali words ‘kukumu’ meaning dreams, phakura means ‘wings’ and ‘baha’ means hibiscus. The copper wing face tool ‘phakura’ is special as they were inspired by the wings of the peacock from our family emblem, and were reminiscent of the ‘kansa’ pots we used in our rasoi ghar. My community that I grew up around has been my forever inspiration and I hope when you use this collection, the sensory experience can transport you, albeit momentarily to the land of art and culture - Mayurbhanj.
The contents of this box were consciously curated keeping in mind the art deco design of The Belgadia Palace my 18th century ancestral home which I returned to after being away for almost a decade, and the journey of creating this box reintroduced me to both the rustic and regal part of Odisha - and in doing so parts of myself I had forgotten existed. My last name Bhanja comes from the word ‘breaker’, I come from a long line of men and women who have broken tradition to do what they believed was the greater good. I hope by introducing you to some of my family secrets, your imagination has been roused to go off the beaten part and explore the world to reconnect and find yourself.
I am a certified Yoga teacher with expertise in Hatha & Yin Yoga styles. Additionally I have always been passionate about organic brands in the health and wellness space. I stumbled upon the brand Global Beauty Secrets while searching for an authentic beauty brand to partner with.
Collaborating on a beauty range with Global Beauty Secrets has been an exciting journey, as it allows the world to experience first hand the community and culture of India’s best kept secret - Odisha!