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|Bhikari bal (Bhajan Samrat)|
Bhikari Bal with his disciple Arabinda Muduli
|Born||May 25, 1929|
|Origin||Sobala, Kendrapada, Odisha, India|
|Died||November 2, 2010
Bhikari Bal (May 25, 1929 – November 2, 2010), better known as Bhajan Samrat to the people of Odisha, was an Indian singer, best known for his performances in the Indian musical form, the bhajans.
He was a great devotee of Lord Jagannath. He was popular for his dedication to Oriya Bhajans which brought him laurels from far and wide.
Recipient of several prestigious awards, the singer had sung hundreds of Bhajans mostly for Lord Jagannath.
Bhikari Bal was born in Kendrapara district in the state of Odisha, India. His parents Ramachandra Bal and Gellharani Devi died when he was very young. After the death of his first wife Ramachandra had married Gellharani, Bhikari's mother. Ramachandra's first wife had produced a son, Dhaneswara who was much older than Bhikari. Gellharani produced several children but none of them survived. So they named their surviving only son " Bhikari" - the begger. Out of superstition, the parents pretended to have sold the baby to an untouchable family from whom they bought their child back. The child survived but the parents died not long after. So, the care of the child Bhikari fell on his half-brother Dhaneswar and his wife.
After primary education Bhikari enrolled in Kadalibana High School in Kendrapada district and studied up to 9th grade. His village Sobala had a Jatra party and young Bhikari joined it. Through the Jatra party, he learned to sing and act and play harmonium. In those days boys used to dance as girls in Jatra parties . They were called GOTI PUA. Later Bhikari Bal became a music teacher in a local school called Gokulachandra Sangeeta Sadan. He married at the age 20. For a young man with any talent in any village, Cuttack town was a natural attraction. So he came to Cuttack to find greener pasture.
Bhikari Bal took up the teacher's job of an Orissi vocalaist at the Kalabikash Kendra, Cuttack. In early 1960s Bhikari Bal was a struggling artist. Because of his connection to the Kalabikash Kendra, he came to the attention of Kalicharan Pattanayak, the patron saint of anything Orissi and also a well established singer Balakrushna Dash. His voice was refined under the tutelage of Orissi maestro Balakrushna Das. This was the period of struggle for him with the late singer constantly trying for a break in All India Radio, Cuttack. He became an A-grade singer there in 1963 after he received rave reviews for his first broadcast song Prana mitani bareh chahan re. But his popularity grew with Kotha bhoga khia and other such devotional songs in the early ’70s. His lucid and moving rendition of bhajans written by old generation poets such as Gopalkrushna, Dinakrushna, Baldev, Banamali and Salabega are still popular today. He had also rendered songs by Dr. Prasanna Samal, Arabinda Muduli, Raghunath Rout, Kshirod Chandra Pothal, Sirsananda Kanungo, Alekh Biswal, Gourhari Dalei and Srikant Gautam. His Jagannath bhajans and Gita Govinda recitals made him a household name. He had also sung Champu, Chhanda, Folk songs and Oriya film songs. He was awarded the title of Bhajan Samrat by the Puri Gajapati and was given special privileges inside the temple for his devotional tribute to Lord Jagannath. He was also taken to be one of the servitors of the temple for having offered the Chamara Seba to Lord Jagannath. He also gave his voice as play back singer in a number of Oriya films including Bhakta Salabega, Agni Pariksha, Mathura Bijaya, Abhilasha, Amar Prem, Kie Kahara and Srikrushna Rasa Leela, etc..
Final years and death
The singer was bed-ridden for about a year due to age related ailments and had been admitted to SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack. After the public outrage, the Government of Odisha offered financial assistance to the legend and urged the state health department to take care of his health. On November 2, 2010, he died at the SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack, Odisha at around 11:20 PM. Later, he was consigned to flames at the Swargadwara at Puri. His elder son Ashok performed the last rites. A guard of honour by according gun salute was presented at the crematorium while the Sri Jagannath Temple administration presented a sacred piece of cloth (Khandua) which covered his body.
- Bhikari Bal at the Internet Movie Database