The Odisha government has renamed Bilung village in Sambalpur district as ‘Rangabati Bilung’, as the lyricist of the hugely popular ‘Rangabati’ song, Mitrabhanu Gauntia was born in the village. The state’s Revenue and Disaster Management department has renamed Bilung village in Sambalpur district as ‘Rangabati Bilung’ after getting a “no objection” certificate from the Central government.
Earlier, the Sambalpur District Collector, the Revenue Divisional Commissioner (RDC), Board of Revenue, and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had also recommended renaming Bilung village as ‘Rangabati Bilung’ revenue village.
“This is a rare moment in the history of the art of culture of the state,” said Revenue and Disaster Management secretary B P Sethi, adding that the government declared the village after the son (Gauntia) keeping in view its popularity among all sections of people of the state.
The Rangabati song was first recorded in All India Radio (AIR), Sambalpur in 1975-76. Keeping its wide popularity in view, the Indian Record Manufacturing Company Ltd (INRECO) also recorded this song in disc format in 1976, the disc was released in 1978-79.
Gauntia, the lyricist of the Rangabati song was born in Bilung village in 1942 and has composed about 1,000 Sambalpuri songs. He received Padma Sri Award in 2020 in addition to Odisha State Sangeet Natak Academy Award and Akashvani National Award for music.
Rangabati male singer Jitendra Haripal received the Padma Shri award for the song in 2017. The music composer for this number is Late Prabhudatta Pradhan. Rangabati has the unique distinction of being re-created in many other regional languages of India and the song is very popular in West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar as well as Chhattisgarh.
During the 7th World Water Forum in South Korea (2015), Korean dancers performed to the tune of Rangabati. Before that, the song was officially recognized and played on the Odisha tableau, during the Republic Day parade in New Delhi in 2007.
“Rangabati is no longer a song. This unique chartbuster which celebrated its silver jubilee in the year 2004 has become a part of our ethos and part of our panoramic culture,” said a senior official in the state Culture department.