Other States

National honour proves cold comfort for Odisha folk artiste

Odisha’s famous singer Jitendra Haripal is seen along with his wife inside the damaged house in Sambalpur, Odisha. Photo: Special Arrangement  

Jitendra Haripal, awarded the Padma Shri for his long-standing contribution to the folk music of Odisha’s Sambalpur district, is keeping is fingers crossed, hoping the current dry spell of the monsoon continues.

His four-roomed, tile-roofed house in the Stationpada area of Sambalpur town is on the verge of collapse. The incessant rains in the last week of August weakened the house further, with a portion of a wall caving in. The precarious structure shelters 11 members of Mr. Haripal’s family.

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Like several thousand folk artistes and musicians across the country, the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown has robbed Mr. Haripal and his family of their livelihood. The legendary singer, who shot to fame for his chartbuster ‘Rangabati..Rangabati’, was much sought after for stage-shows and recordings. Other members of his family are also into music with his elder son playing the accordion, while his daughter-in-law is a singer and one grand-daughter a dancer.

“We have managed to survive with the Odisha government’s monthly Padma Shri pension of ₹10,000 but it is difficult to arrange for resources to meet other expenses, leave alone repairing the dilapidated house,” said Mr. Haripal.

“Our life is also at risk as the walls of house could fall at any moment. The rat burrows inside the clay walls and floors have destabilized the house further. It is now beyond repair. Given our financial condition, no one is ready to lend money for construction of a new house,” he added.

Mr. Haripal, from the Dalit community, said he had wanted to meet the district collector and request that a house be allotted to him, but due to the pandemic, he has not been able to arrange an appointment.

The folk singer has huge following and began his career with All India Radio in 1971. He is best know for his 1975 hit Rangbati, with the popular song was played during the Republic Day parade in 2007. Mr Haripal has also sung in other languages including Bhojpuri. In 2017, he was awarded the ‘Padma Shri’.

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Printable version | Nov 29, 2020 5:02:33 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/national-honour-proves-cold-comfort-for-odisha-folk-artiste/article32543609.ece

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