By Prasanta Patnaik
I had first met Nagamani Mohanty in a cultural program at Puri, as back as in 1959 while I was a student of S.C.S. College, Puri. At that time Puri was humming with literary and cultural activities. In a literary meeting at the Town Hall, Puri , the organizers suddenly announced over the microphone requesting Smt. Nagamani Mohanty to sing a light classical song.
” Nagamani ” the name itself sounded strange to me as such a name was never familiar to me. Soon a slim lady appeared on the stage along with her tanpura and two accompanists on tabla. For some time there was little uneasiness in the auditorium . Many whispered “what song this lady will sing, who does not appear to be an Oriya lady ?”
Nagamani started singing a Meera Bhajan charming the entire audience. There was pin drop silence. Nagamani charmed every body with her sweet melodious voice. Soon there were a series of requests from the audience. Young and old present there were charmed by her sweet voice with classical touch.
One of my friend, Prafulla Chandra Patnaik, a budding poet at that time informed me that the young lady, though hails from a respectable Telugu family has married an young Oriya youth, Harish Chandra Mohanty, eldest son of eminent social activist Smt. Saraswoti Devi , well known for her reformist actions all over the State.
Though I am not an ardent listener of music, Nagamani’s song left a deep impression in my mind.
Born in 1943, Nagamani had obtained M.A. in Classical Music and Sangeet Alankar from Gandharv Mahavidyalaya Pune. Subsequently she was empaneled as an approved artist of All India Radio in 1968 and participated in over a thousand of programmes in the AIR ( All India Radio ). She contributed classical songs in a number of Oriya films as play back singer and also had lent her voice for production of several audio cassettes and C.D.s. Nagamni worked as a senior music teacher in Kendriya Vodyalaya at Balasore between 1972 to 2003, until she took VRS after sudden unfortunate death of her eldest son Rajesh. The second set back was death of her eldest daughter Bhagyalaxmi who died at a very young age. During her career as a teacher, she has produced thousands of good musicians devoted to classical and light classical music. She was honoured by hundreds of institutions inside the State and also from outside. She was also awarded Orissa Sangeet Akademi Award for her contribution to Oriya classical music.
Smt. Mohanty left for her heavenly abode leaving behind her most beloved husband Harish Chandra Mohanty, who was a senior officer in Orissa Government, youngest son Col.Rajesh Mohanty and younger daughter along with grand sons and grand daughters. Her loss is not only a loss to his family members, it is also a loss for the Oriya light classical music lovers, who will not be able to hear her charming songs again from her sweet voice.