SAMBALPUR: Jitendra Haripal, the voice behind ‘Rangabati’, had never hoped for a Padma Award. A Dalit with no formal training in music who took to singing out of passion, he hopes the recognition might help him change his financial condition.
It was ‘Rangabati’, which took him to the zenith of popularity in the mid-70s. The song was recorded by All India Radio, Sambalpur in 1975-76 for Surmalika special programme and re-recorded (Disc) later on in Indian Record Company (INERCO), Kolkata in 1978-79. So far, he has sung in over 1,000 Koshali and Sambalpuri songs.
Even today, his voice continues to create euphoria among crowd whenever he sings at functions.
His first song recorded and broadcast was ‘Bhalu Palala Patarake’ followed by ‘Hai Kustan Hai Kustan’, ‘Mandal Bajila’, ‘Lenjera Ghanti Delana’ and many more such songs but it was ‘Ranagabati’ which made him popular.
However, his struggle for existence continues till date with one of his son, Paras driving an auto rickshaw to support their big family while he had lost another son, Pratap, who worked as a daily wager and fell to death at a construction site. Haripal has been bestowed with many awards including the Odisha Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 2001, Doctor of Literature (Honoris Causa) by Utkal University of Culture, Bhubaneswar, in 2015 for his unparalleled contribution to folk music.
Haripal got the news of his being chosen for Padma Shri Award from this paper while returning to Sambalpur from Panchmahalla in Ulunda block of Sonepur district.