Don’t Have Much To Gain Singing Odia Bhajans: Sona Mohapatra

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Bhubaneswar: Singer Sona Mohapatra seems to have stretched the controversy surrounding her rendition of Odia bhajan ‘Ahe Nila Saila’ a little too far with her recent Facebook post, degrading Odia community as a whole.

“Despite my short stay in Odisha I feel deeply connected to my roots there. Connected not to the larger mass of people who seem to suffer from low self esteem & a deep need to pull each other down but to my ancestors, their art, the gorgeous landscape, nature & just about everything she has to offer,” the post read.

Sona had sung this bhajan at a musical concert in Mumbai last year. However, it sparked off controversy after the event was uploaded on YouTube on Monday and she was pulled up for mispronouncing some words of the popular bhajan by Salabega, the renowned Odia poet and ardent devotee of Lord Jagannath.

She wrote that she is “exhausted with the never ending tirade of nonsense.” Concluding the post, she wrote, “Honestly don’t have much to gain singing Odia bhajans. Doesn’t add to my bank balance or brand appeal on a national stage. So Goodbye. Hello Paris!”

She also took to twitter, defending herself on the matter.

While outfits like Odisha Bhasa Andolan and Puri Sachetan Nagarik Manch strongly criticised Sona for distorting the Odia language, senior Congress leader and OPCC president Niranjan Patnaik came out in her support.

Convenor of Puri Sachetan Nagarik Manch Prasanna Das also lodged a complaint with Simhadwara police station alleging that she had deliberately distorted the devotional sung for personal gain, to which she tweeted:

In her rendition, Sona had pronounced Salabega as “Sale Bega”, Charana as “Charane” Shrianga as “Chhiranga” and Matta as “Maatra”.

Well-known Bhajan singer Shantilata Barik (Chhotray) and Ollywood music director Laxmikanta Palit advised Sona to be more careful about the language and pronunciation while singing Odia bhajans.

Photographer and bird-watcher, Panchami Manoo Ukil, shared a post on FB where she included an old Odia song by Lata Mangeshkar and wrote about her flawless pronunciation. In her post, she expressed disappointment over the singer’s insensitively sung Odia bhajan.

Swastik Choudhury, an actor, on the other hand said there are people with accents and words worse than her.

Pradyumna Sathpaty, journalist, said he strongly opposes Sona’s rendition. “She has no rights to disrespect the household bhajan,” he added.

Tourism and Culture Minister Ashok Chandra Panda, when contacted, said he has no comments to make.

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