He worked as a child labourer in his childhood, and now honoured with Padma Shree for his Poetry!
“Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words” - Robert Frost
The 67 year old Padma Shri awardee Sambalpuri poet and writer believes that poetry must have a real-life connection and a message for the people. Haldhar Nag was born in a poor family in Ghens village, which is 76km from Sambhalpur in Bargarth District of Odisha on 31st March 1950. He was greatly moved by his father's death at the age of 10. With the increased responsibilities at his early age, he dropped out from school at a very tender age after his 3rd standard.
The Childhood days of Haldhar Nag
After leaving the school he joined as a dishwasher at a sweet shop. Two years later he started working as a cook in a school where he worked for almost 16 years. During his work at school, he came to know that many schools are going to be opened in the area and he decided to start his own business. Getting a loan of Rs.1000 from a banker he started a small shop for selling stationery and eatables for school children.
His early days as a poet
Initially, Nag started writing Sambalpuri folk stories and in 1990's he started Samabalpuri poems. His poetry mainly deals with the social issues, fighting oppression, nature, religion, mythology which was derived from the everyday life around him. He supports and fights for the oppressed and marginalized through his poems.
“Everyone is a poet, but only a few have the art of giving them shape” - Haldhar Nag
Contributions to Odian Literature
Nag gained the attention by publishing Dhodo Bargachb known as "The Old Banyan Tree" in a local magazine. Some of his famous works and contributions include Lokgeet, Samparda, Krushnaguru, Mahasati Urmila, Tara Mandodari, Achhia, Bacchhar, Siri Somalai, Veer Sundar Sai, Karamsani, Rasia Kavi(Biography of Tulasidas), Prem Paechan, Bhaab, Surut.
Reciting poetry from his mind without referring any books. His simplicity and dressing in a white dhoti with no footwear. His writings on issues involving Crusader rights and Social reformation. His role in Sambalpuri language movement for its inclusion in the 8th Constitutional schedule.
More than just a Poet!
Nag believes that his job is to keep on writing and he should write until his last breathe. Sharing his poetry experience, he said, "I still compare my poems in my head first. I keep on repeating them till the lines sound right to the ears and only when I'm convinced, do I write them down." On 2nd October 2016 Kavyanjali, an anthology of Nag's selected poetry was launched in English. In the same year, he was honored with the prestigious Padma Shri award on the hands of President, Pranab Mukherjee for his tremendous contributions to the Odia literature.
Haldhar Nag is one in a million personality who raised the Odian literature through Samabalpuri poems and folk stories. Although he dropped out from school, he proved that age is just a number and classroom isn't everything through his writings and contributions.