Celebrating Acclaimed Poet And Translator Sitakant Mahapatra’s 83rd Birthday who has published over 15 poetry collection with many essay collections and over 30 contemplative works with numerous translations. He was in the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and retreated in 1995 and was held as ex -officio posts as the Chairman of the National Book Trust. Even the Library of Congress has sixty titles by him in its collection.
Born in 1937 in Mahanga which is near Chitrotpala Mahapatra grew up with rendering chapters from Bhagwad Gita. He studies in Korua government High School and later joined Ravenshaw College where he finished his B.A in History Honours. He did his Masters in Political science from Allahabad University where he was also the editor of the university journal. In 1969 under the Colombo Plan Fellowship, he did his Diploma in Overseas Development Studies at Cambridge University. He later spends another year at Harvard University as a participant in the Ford Foundation Fellowship Program.
His poems usually portray the ideology of Odisha culture and tradition and also considered as one of the best-known names in the world of Indian Literature. He is known for his two decades of work in bringing tribal Santhali literature into the National consciousness. He has infinite collections of oral poems of Santhal Tribal groups from the Orissa-Jharkhand-Chhattisgarh region and then was translated into English. Santhals along with Gonds and Bhils are the largest tribal groups of India. Those poems were published in eight volumes as “They Sing Life: Anthology of Oral Poetry of the Primitive Tribes of India”. Later he also published two volumes on the changing Santhali society – “Modernisation and Rituals” and “The Realm of the Sacred”.
Even his scholarly contributions to the “Little Traditions” of tribal societies testify to his range of interests and erudition. He also wrote Sabdar Akash (The Sky of Words), Samudra, Ashtapadi, Shabdara akasha, Ara drushya, Shrestha kavita, Sabda, Svapna O nirvikata, Aneka sarata, (travelogue) Ushavilasa, (palm-leaf manuscript), and Anek Sharat.
Among English he wrote -The ruined Temple and other poems, (poetry, translation); Bringing Them Back to School and Unending Rhythms (Oral poetry of Indian Tribals in translation).
He was felicitated with many awards and recognization throughout his career. In 1994-1996 he was felicitated as the Secretary, Culture, Government of India, President, UNESCO’s World Decade for Cultural Development with Senior Fellow of Harvard University; and Honorary Fellow of International Academy of Poets, Cambridge University. He was awarded Jnanpith Award in 1993, Sarala Award in 1985, Orissa Sahitya Akademi Award in 1971 & 1984, Sahitya Akademi Award in1974, and ‘Award of the Highest Honour’ by Soka The University of Tokyo in 2001. Apart from winning the Soviet Land Nehru Award, Kabeer Samman, he was also awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2002 and Padma Vibhushanin 2011 for literature He is also the Chairman of the National Book Trust, New Delhi.
Article Written by Dikhya Mohanty
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