The coveted Padmashree award might have brought him glory, but the humble rural poet, Haldhar Nag, remains grounded and even continues his small business of selling channa and ‘ghuguni’ by the roadside in his village Ghens in Bargarh district.

Long back, he was running a small shop with food items like groundnut, chana, mixture, biscuits, pencils etc. as it was close to a school.

His status as a Padmashree awardee has not changed him a wee bit.

“Like every year, during the famous Rath Yatra, I sell ragchana and ghuguni and I did so this year too,” he said without batting an eyelid. He seemed happy to see that the demand for his food items remains the same and he could earn Rs 4000 to Rs 7000 during the Car Festival at his native Ghens.

“I prepare the Ghuguni in my home and sell it in my small shop mostly to the children and all other devotees coming to the Rath Yatra,” says Nag.

“Since my shop is my prime source of livelihood, I never hesitate to continue this business,” he adds.

Nag says he had neglected the shop for a while due to the attention/invitations to literary functions etc. that had increased after he got the Padmashree in 2016.

“But I have not quit the small street side business of mine totally,” added Nag.

It is worth mentioning that Nag is popularly known as ‘Asu Kabi’, i.e. one who composes poems instantly. He has composed volumes of poems and ‘Haladhar Granthabali’ contains all of them.

“I take pride in earning money from my labour,” says Nag.

“On Rath Yatra (Dwitiya Rath), I sold Ghuguni worth Rs. 4000 and Rs 7000 on Bahuda Yatra, but with less margin of profit. My preparation suits more to stomach than to tongue,” he added.

Many were shocked to find that Nag still sells food on the streets during the Car Festival in Ghens even after attaining the status of a Padmashree poet.

Sixty-nine-year-old Nag, a school dropout, has composed poems mainly on nature, society, mythology and religion.