By Bhudeb Chakrabarti
On 28 March 2016, the President of India Pranab Mukherjee bestowed Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award in the Republic of of India upon Haldhar Nag.
Born on 31 March, 1950 in a poor family of Ghess village, situated in Bargarh District, Odisha, Haldhar Nag had no formal schooling. The demise of his father when he was just ten forced him to to drop out from the school. Haldhar took up a job of a dishwasher in a local sweet shop. He later worked as a cook of the local High School for 16 years. When a number of schools came up in the area he opened a small shop of stationery articles and eatables for the school students by arranging a bank loan of 1000 Rupees.
Haldhar started writing in Kosali language from 1990. Kosali, a western variation of Odia language is spoken in Western Odisha and adjoining areas of Chhattisgarh State. Kosali language uses the Odia script and is also known as Sambalpuri. When Haldhar sent his poem to a magazine, they published it immediately. He sent four more poems which were also published quickly and he received requests for more of his poems.
Haldhar Nag has penned 20 epics so far. He writes on subjects of nature, people, mythology and religion. A people’s poet Haldhar Nag took up causes of the oppressed people, their rights and dignity of life. He is admired by the common people of Odisha and Chhattisgarh. They come in large numbers to hear him recite his poems. Blessed with a prodigious memory, he remembers all lines and words of all his poems. An unassuming personality Haldhar Nag walks barefooted, mostly dressed in a simple dhoti and a vest.
Haldhar Nag, honoured as ‘Lok Kavi Ratna’ (Gem of a People’s Poet) is a recipient of Odisha Sahitya Akademi Award (2014). BBC made a documentary film on him. Five scholars did Ph. D Research based on his work. Sambalpur University is compiling all his works as ‘Haldhar Granthabali’ (Collected Works of Haldhar) which will be included in the syllabus of the University.
Haldhar Nag’s family comprises of his wife Malati and daughter Nandini. His stationery shop attracts many people and has attained a heritage status. We wish Haldhar Nag a long creative life, good health, happiness and well-being.
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This article is contributed by Bhudeb Chakrabarti, Dy IG (Retd) CRPF. He has commanded several Operational and Administrative functions in the force and has imparted training to gazetted officers of CRPF and other central & state police forces.
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