Padmini Rangarajan Reports
December 2012 Report- Excerpts
Performance Vidhi Bhagavatham-Chindu Yakshagana
Performance by Mothe Jaganatham and team.
As part of death ceremony ritual it is the practice to invite folk artists to play Vidhi Bhagavatham. However, this tradition is seldom seen in practice in modern days. As part of the tenth day observation called Dasha Dino-Sri Kathi Hari Narasaiah organized to revive the traditional practice of Vidhi Bhagavatham play on the occasion of the demise of his mother Katthi Muthamma who was around 98+.Kathi Hari Narasaiah is a Bank Manager and had heard about Vidhi Bhagavatham but had not watched till date. Katthi is the family name meaning sword. It is believed that their ancestors were good at sword fighting and came to be known so. The performance was arranged on short notice at the Beda Bodega Jangam colony, Rajiv Nagar, Janagam. The performance commenced at 9:00 pm. The shamiyana – tent was laid for the audience to watch the play. As it is a custom, they had a feast elaborate food cooked and served with drinks. It is the dinner first and then the play commences. In this art form, males play the female roles too. As the play goes till early morning 2-3 am-6-8 hours play with intervals in between. So, to add attraction and sustain the interest of watching the play, the artists who play female roles change the attire for every scene. Like the main lead female character changes saree frequently. Again, the family members also give their sarees to be used during the performance. The team consisted of the following members:
1. Mothe Jaganatham—Lead female role 2.Mothe Uppaliah—Lead male role
3. Mothe Kondaiah—Second lead female role 4.Chintala Venkaiah—Sutradar, Comic role and other roles.
5. Mothe Chandraiah 6.Chintala Khadraiah
7. Kadamanchi Kondaswamy 8.Mothe Ilaiah.
1. Mothe Gauramma-female main singer
2. Chintala Venkatamma-Female second main singer
3. Kotaiah-on table
4. Mothe Chandraiah
5. Kadamanchi Kondaswamy
6. Prathu Rajaiah.
The play was on “KanthaMathi” which the Katthi Narasaiah family requested to perform. The story involves humour too. In order to gain the attention of the audience, the music team commences the performance by singing songs. They also sing some of the old film devotional and pouranic songs. Then the play commences. The entry of any character is with a dance movement to the table beats. The entry of female character is followed by dance movement and a song. Kanthimathi story revolves around two female characters. One is pious lady and another is greed type and witch like. So, while enacting the play, artists again and again the emphasis on “Devoted woman characters”, “how women should be”, “comparison of olden day’s women to modern day’s women”, “win of the victory over evil” and so on. Again, use of the common English word during the play added fun in between the play. I went to shoot the play after receiving a short notice in the evening along with S.BheemaRao KBSC scholar. We reached at 8:45pm and after meeting the family members and also accepting the food, we joined to watch the play. Present generation children are pursuing professional courses and are not aware of play performance. ParvathamSindhuja- Great granddaughter of late KatthiMuthamma, granddaughter of KatthiNarasaiah is pursuing her B.Tech IIIrd year JNTU, Hyderabad. She is watching this performance for the first time. As, I had not charged my Handy cam beforehand, I could not record the whole play.
Performance 13-12-2012 Janagam
CCRT organizes puppetry training workshop for teacher regularly. Sri Shinde Ganga Shetty and team- traditional Leather Puppeteer from Nemalikunta, Ananthpur District Andhra Pradesh gave performance on an episode from the Ramayana-Hanuman’s visit to Lanka. They belong to a Marathi Balijalam caste that have migrated from Maharashtra. They speak Marathi-dialect that differs from native Marathi language. Team members: Vanarasi Aravindama, Shinde Balamma, Vanarasi Eramma-female singers and female character voice giver. Dalavayi Anandrao, Dalavayi Ram Mohan along with Shin.de Ganga Shetty gave a spectacular performance. The puppets are about four to five feet.
Field Visit to Janagam.Visited Janagam in the morning around 10:00am.
I waited for my community Co ordinator Sri Mothe Jaganatham garu at his sister’s place. Chintal Yadgiri, Kadamachi Kondaswamy known as Kondaiah, Mothe Gauramma and other family members present. Brief discussion was on the other days Vedhi Bhagavatham with family members.
My co-ordinator arrived at 11:30am. He had his lunch and then joined the discussion.
The discussion started with Mothe Jaganatham’s journey and Mothe Family Tree. Mothe Family Tree
MotheVeeraiah (Great GrandFather) Three Sons 1.Mothe Ramachandram 3.Mothe Ramalingam 3.Mahkalamma Wife (SInger) 1a Four Sons 1.b Four Daughters 2.Mothe NarasimaluGrandFather 2.A Ramakka wife (Singer) Grandmother 2a MotheVenkaswamy-Father 2b MotheUppalaiah (Paternal uncle) 2c.three Daughters 2b.1 Two Sons 2b.2 Four Daughters Daughters 2ca MotheGowramma (Singer) 2cb Gangamma (Singer) 2cc Uppalamma 2a Mothe venkataswamy2A Kanakamma wife (Mother) 2a.1 MotheJaganatham -Son 2a.2 Three daughters 2A.1 Rajamma wife—-(Both female singers Five sons Two Daughters (Four brothers are trained in Vedhi Bhagawatham and Bommalatta)2a.1 Mothe Jaganatham2a.1.1 Three sons 2a.1.2 Two Daughters
Mothe Gowramma deserted by her husband, continued with the team as a female singer. On December 15,2012 she was awarded “ Award of Appreciation in Folklore” by P.S.Telugu University, Hyderabad. She has four daughters who are married. Her sister Gangamma (no more), was married to Nedigonda Yadgiri. She along with her sister rendered female voice and accompanied in singing. One of her sons is trained in Vedhi Bhagavatham, but with the team. The younger sister was Uppalamma who also accompanied the troupe was married to Chintal Lakshmirasimhalu.Mothe Jaganatham’s grandfather Mothe Narasimhalu , popularly known as Bommala Narasimhalu was playing smaller size puppets. The puppets were carved by Nakashivalu-who are trained in carving god goddess statues and figures out of metals. Once on his way to Malayala village-Malayala Dora (Headman) who watched the play was not happy with his puppets. He called his goldsmith Ramaiah and ordered him to carve a new set of twelve Puppets out of “Komariponika” tree barks. These trees were in abundance in Malaya dora’s farm. Goldsmith Ramaiah took one full year to complete the puppets. He was rewarded with 1200 gunchalu of Paddy-roughly ten bags of Paddy. (Gunchalu is measuring cup used then. One gunchalu = 12kgs. One bag contains ten gunchalu). One thousand rupees, one pair of cow a calf. His grandfather had one elder brother Mothe Ramachandram who toured too many places and did not settle in one place. He had four sons and they are no more. Their family members lost their puppets. His younger brother Mothe Ramalingam settled at Burugupeta, Venkatapuram Mandal, Waragal District. He is survived by two sons MotheYadagiri and MotheRamulu. They have smaller size puppets with them, which is almost in defunctioning state. At present it is Mothe Jaganatham along with his Uncle Mothe Uppalaiah and team who are keeping both Vedhi Bhagawatham and Bommalatta still in surviving mode. Chintala Yagiri and their family played Traditional Leather Puppetry. They have given their puppets away. He is in brawl digging. Sometimes, he joins Mothe Jaganatham’s team. Kadamanchi Kondaswamy is Mothe Jaganatham’s Brother-In-Law (Younger sister’s husband). He is one of the team members.
After collecting the family details, I returned back to Hyderabad.
January Report – Excerpts
January 4, 2013 Visit to Janagam
Interactions and discussions on Mothe Jaganatham’s relationship with his Grandfather and father.
Mothe Jaganatham has hazy memories of his grandfather Mothe Narasimalu popularly known as Bommala Narasimalu playing puppets and giving performances. He was trained by his father Mothe Venkataswamy both in Bommalattam and Vedhi Bhagavatham. His father passed away in 1974, and the team made Mothe Jaganatham as team head. Gradually, performances too reduced as his children and other team members children were in schools. The folk performances were viewed as a low dignity act by the next generation. Meanwhile a couple of them also took up odd jobs and felt earning for the family is better than giving performances and begging.
Union of Mothe and Chintala Puppeteer families.
Mothe Ramaiah ,Mothe Jaganatham’s Great Great Grandfather known as “O! Muthtata” practiced both Koya Bommalatta. His successors also practiced only Koya Bommalatta. It was during his grandfather Mothe Narasimalu’s period that performance in Vedhi Bhagawatham commenced. Once during his earlier days, he happened to watch a ‘Harikatha Play in Pandavas’. This was the inspiration for him to learn with the Bhagavatham. He was semi-literate and learnt the ethnic of Vedhi Bhagavatham from the harikatha troupe and came up with his own unique style and composition. It was during this time, there was another troupe of Leather Puppeteers-Tholu Bommalatta garu by Chintals. Chintala ‘Kistamma’ also known as Kitaiah within the Budiga Jangam community and as Ramachandraiah to the rest of the world was Mothe Narasimlu’s contemporary. Both crossed each other during festivity and village visits. Vedhi Bhagavatham brought the two closest to each other. Mothe Narasimlu donned female character and Chintala Kistamma-Kitaiah played male characters of Vedhi Bhagavatham. Later, mere friendship was solemnized into “Veyankula relationship”-marriage ties between the two groups. Mothe Narasimlu’s elder daughter Gowramma (December 15, 2012, she was presented with the woman folk artist award for her contribution to folk art by P.S.Telugu University) was given in marriage to the eldest son of Chintala Kistamma-Kitaiah. However, the marriage did not last long and hence Gowramma returned to her maternal family and remained with them. She continued to give female voice over for Bommalatta and Vedhi Bhagavatham. Thus, she continued to be known as Mothe Gowramma.
Januaray 16, 2013 Visit to Janagam: Festival Rituals
Apart from following the trend of general public festivals in the region like Sankranthi, Karthik Punnami, Ugadi and so on, Beda Beduga Jangalu also observe different rituals and festivals. The group is back to Ammapuram in Shravana masam (as per Telugu Calendar) every year that coincides with English month August-September. This whole month is filled with festivity, excitement and ritual observations for the whole community.
January 29-31stTolluBommalatta at Ravindra Bharathi, Hyderabad
Department of Culture of the state organized three days Tollubommalatta by inviting 6-8 traditional groups from different regions of Andhra Pradesh. I could get to interact with three puppeteer groups in between the performance. Sri Vanaparthi Durga Rao from Narasaraopet, Guntur District Sri Rekunas Koti Ling fom Adanki Village Prakasham District, Andhra Pradesh and who are giving traditional leather puppetry performance for the last thirty years with his family. Their troupe consists of 10-15 members-female- and male. They play Uttara Go GrahanamDakshina Go Grahanam, Padmayuham, Keechaka Vadam episodes from Mahabharata, SundaraKandam, LakshmanaMurcha, Lanka Dahanam, Mayi Ravana Charita, and Rama-Ravana Yudam from Ramayana.
This month, I got the opportunity to participate and also watch rare folk art performances from Telangana region. Further, at Bekkal and also at Hanumanathapuram got to see traditional wooden string puppetry performance and Yakshagana performances.
This also made me realize that these traditional puppeteers are above 63 years. Some are nearing 80 years. The age factor is also playing a major role. With regard to Yakshagana performances, they are not able to throw voice which they did earlier; foot step or footing coordination is missing. They are not able to jump and give that flexible movement.
Coming to Bommalatta– the presentation was good. The only problem was to lift heavy weight puppets.
Again, after visualizing various rare folk art forms of Telanagana, I feel that the state of all art forms is in a declining trend.
Further, the changes undergone with respect to marriage rituals and practices, the influence of other community, caste practices overshadowing their practices and creating lots of impediments.
February 1, 2013
Oggu KathaKalakarula Atma Samrakshana Bheri, Sundaraiah Vignana Kendra Hyderabad
Oggu Katha is a traditional folklore singing praising and narrating the stories of Hindu Gods Mallana, Beerappa and Yellamma. It is one of the well known folk art form of Telangana region. It originated among Yadav & Kuruma Golla community, who devoted themselves to the singing of ballads in praise of Lord Siva. Oggu Katha is derived from the instrument, the Oggu, used at the beginning of each story and also at the marriage festival of the Mallanna – son of Lord Shiva. The folk name given to Shiva’s ‘damaruka‘, it is also known as ‘jaggu‘ and oggu. The team consists of four to six members. The main narrator, an assisting narrator, and at least two instrumentalists – one playing on a big drum called ‘rana bheri’ and the others on brass talas of a big size. Another member plays on a kanjira and the sixth one sings along with the narrator and also plays a napheera, a wind instrument, used at times of martial heroism or courage.
From all the ten Districts Constituting Telangana region Oggu Kala artist teams flocked to Hyderabad. The programme was organized by Arunodaya Organisation under the leadership of Mrs Vimala.
I was invited by the organizers to participate in the event, as an observer with special interest in folklore in and catch the glimpse of oggukatha, I participated at the OgguKathaKalakarulaAtmaSamrakshanaBheri
February 7, 2013
Visit to Janagam, Hanumanthapuram, Ammapuram
At Janagam discussion on Magha Pournima Yakshagana performance at Bekkal. We proceed to Hanumanthapuram Zilla Parishad High School and fixed up for Koyya Bommalatta performance with the Head Master. The school was a random selection on the way to Ammapuram. Then moved to Ammapuram village and discussed about Marriage rituals and practices, Divorce or Separation and so on.
February 27, 2013
Telangana Janapada Kalalu organized by Andhra Saraswat Parishad Hyderabad. I was also asked to introduce Adilabad Gondi dance and ‘Gotala Pitto’ importance. There were six rare folk art performances chosen for the presentation. Again, it was an opportunity to see Runtza drum player and artists, Kathi dance, Gondal performers, and so on. I was invited by the organisers to introduce Gondi tribal dance of Adilabad and also to give introductory speech on ‘Gotulpito’- a dance format
The chief narrator wears a dhoti tied up to the knees, a colored shirt, a colored head cloth, a colored waistcloth, and ankle bells. Usually Red color of waist cloth or dhoti they prefer. The other narrator also will have the same dress. More than the costume, the ornaments they have to wear are traditionally considered more important. The main narrator will have a chains made of seven shells called ‘gavvaladarshanam’.
In addition, they wear five silver rings and five silver chains, a wrist band, thick silver rings called kadiyam, around the neck, to the right wrist and to the upper arm, a three – layered garland made of pagadam and round silver tavalam, ande and matte to the fingers of the foot and a garland with Mallana’s portrait on it . During the course of action, the folk performers also take a stick, which serves also as a sword.
Oggus Katha allows tremendous scope for dramatization. In the hands of an able narrator, it becomes a very inspiring one, because of the innumerable improvisations introduced, along with the traditional way of rendering the story.
On December 28-31, 2012 Prapancha Telugu Bhasha Maha Sabha-World Telugu Language Conference was held in Tirupati. Eminent artists from performing and non-performing genre were invited and honored for the invaluable service they render as Telugu community. As reported in the media and newspapers the folk performers especially those invited from Telangana region were not received well. ‘They were not only insulted as folk performers but they were not invited to make oggu performance presentation.
Beda Budiga Janagalu community followers observe Magha Pournima rituals. This year it falls on February 25, 2013. During this pournima ten days ‘Jatara’ or ‘Thirunal’ is held at Bekkal. It has been a more of a tradition to perform Yakshagana-Vedhi Bhagavatham at Sri Ramalingeswara temple Bekkal. Bekkal is 30 KM from Ammapuram. This tradition followed by his grandfather Mothe Narasimhalu. He made a pledge before the gathering that till his grandson’s period, every year the Mothe team would perform Yakshagana on Magha Pournima day. To keep up his grandfather’s words, the tradition continues.
This is also known as Yeuru Punnami’. Once in two year “Sammkakka-Sarakka’ tribal Jatara is also held at Warangal. Next in Sammakka-Sarrakka tribal Jatara will be held in 2014. Again, it is a practice of of the families to observe ‘Yeduru Punnami’ festivity to Tribal Goddess Samakka Sarakka by offering fowl/ sheep, ‘Bangaram Panchadam’– means distribution of Jaggery. The weight of a person (tulabharam) equivalent amount of Jaggery is distributed. The family takes head bath, women smear turmeric and vermillion and wear new saree and perfrom this rituals.
Shiva Sathi means “Spirit Possession”. During observing Sammakka-Sarakkapournima ritual, the elderly men and women lead the other community members to the worship of Goddess. During Sammakka Jatara and during Sravana month elderly women and men besmear haldi (turmeric) all over the face and feet and vermillion mark called Kumkum in the centre of the forehead, holding neem leaves, dressed either in red or yellow saree or dhoti, leaving hair open dance continuously to the heavy drum beats till the observation is made at the Goddess and Gods temple. This is called “Shiva-Sathi-Shiga Uggudu”. They again, forecast and predict for the community in general and call upon individual family and remind them of unfulfilled pledge or sacrifice to Goddess sisters and Gods brothers. One of the female team member Chintala Venkatamma dresses like Shiva Sathi during Sammakka and Sravana feastivity of Goddess.
At Ammapuram there are small collection of stones placed in a rectangular form one above the other and given Goddess called sisters, namely, Pochamma, Muthyallamma, Vemula Pochamma, Konda Pochamma, Nalla Pochamma, Thora Pochamma, Yellamma, Uppallamma, Peda Uppallamma, Jala Maisamma, Pulimara Maisamma, Shanigaram Maisamma, Durgamma. Similarly, Male Gods called brothers are: Vemulavada Rajanna, Yadgiripalli Narasimhaswamy, Tirupati Venkanna, Kondagatla Hanuman, Kotha Konda Veeranna, Ilone Mallanna, Kumaravelli Mallanna, Kovuri Yeranna, and two Turukadevatalu (Muslim Pirs) Bibipeta Saiya Saab and Annaro Yakurvela Saab.
Beda Budiga Jangalu have their own dialect or to say code language. This dialect has more than three hundred words. They communicate in their respective code language to be aware of the police, villagers, and other officials and when in contact with new people and till they gain confidence of the people. However, they converse in Telugu with their children, kith and kin. However, my community elder is ashamed of their dialect and considers it as meaningless and low language status in comparison with Telugu, Tamil, and English.
Then we proceeded to Ammapuram, at Community Elder Sri Mothe Jaganatham’s house, I discussed about Marriage practices, rituals and Divorce or Separation that is practiced by Beda Buduga Janagalu Community.
Marriage-Rituals and Practices and transformation undergone
As per Kula Sinddhantha, both male and female can choose their life partner and inform the same to the community elders, who after taking the concern of the both the parties officially announces the marriage. In normal case, it the community elders coming with suitable marriage proposals .Rs5/- as Eddam are given to the bride towards purchase of bangles. This marks the sign of ‘Engagement’ or reserving the girl. Rs200/- is paid to community elders called kula gurus towards pleasure drinks.
One day before set marriage day, the bridegroom donate around 40-50 Kunchalu. Kunchalu, Buddalu, Solla, Chittalu are measuring units. One Solla is nearing 1Kg. One Kunchalu is less than 10 bastas of Paddy. Basta again is Paddy bag containing 25Kgs of Paddy. (These measuring unit and tradition of donating paddy is no more in practice). At bridegroom’s village, in the presence of community heads, the paddy is further distributed to all the family members of the community. Each family head comes and collects the paddy depending upon number of mouths in his family to feed. Along with Paddy distribution, of money is also distributed to each family. Elders of family get Re1/- and children get pavala i.e., 25 paise each.
Yedduru Gollu Ceremony:
The marriage takes place at Bride’s village. In one the known person’s house, grooms and his family members arrive in the morning. Sacred bath is given separately for both bride and groom. Reception is arranged by the bride’s family wherein women sing “Suvvi Suvvi, Suvvallaara” and welcome the bride groom and party in the evening along with respective community elders. Then pounding of paddy by three married women and bride and bridegroom is done in front of the community. Groom head was tied with long towel like a turban.
Both bride and groom come in newly wedded cloth called ‘Pasupu Battalu’.Then both Bride and Bridegroom are given scared haldi water (Turmeric dissolved in water) separately by respective community elders and elderly women called Muthaidilu. Then new bride and groom are made to sit facing each other in the centre place identified for marriage solemnisation. Community elders then feed the bride and groom with “Milk-Butter-Rice” mix. Then “AakkuPokalu” mango leaf game is conducted. The one end of the leaf is held by the bride in her mouth and the groom picks the other end with his mouth. The game signifies the sharing of whole and soul by the newly married couple. The whole community is exited for this game which goes at length.
Mangalsutram, Kalunguram and Brahma Mudi:
Then the head of the community elder decides the time for tying of ‘Mangal Sutram’– sacred Yellow thread as a symbol of marriage, elderly women inserts the ‘Kalunguram-Toe rings’ for the bride. Then a knot is tied to the end of the Anchu of saree (free flowing end) and grooms upper garment shalwa.
A pot cooked with rice is then held before the bride and groom and rotated thrice clockwise and thrice anti clockwise to ward off evils eyes called ‘dhristti’ by the community elder men and women. Then the pot is broken.
Second Traditional bath:
After the marriage, both bride and groom are given holy traditional bath by elderly women called Muthaidilu(Married women) and elderly men. New pair of clothes-white dhoti to the groom and white saree to the bride is given. Rest of the community members’ cook in their respective houses with the wedding paddy received. Almost all the expense incurred for the wedding is borne by the groom’s family.
Special Feast is arranged for Bride and Bridegroom and Community elders:
Separate food is cooked by digging mud underneath like a canal called “Gayi Poyi”. In six big earthen pots rice is cooked. They only cook vegetarian food for the wedding. Along with rice lentil soup called Pappucharu is served. This specially cooked food is served to brides and groom’s family members and community elders.
Once the wedding ceremony ends, the head of the community elders decides the day for “Kalagolla”-First Night ceremony. For this the groom’s father has to pay considerable amount to the community elders.
There are lots of changes that has undergone with respect to marriage and rituals. Influence of other community wedding, cinemas, the Beda Budiga Jangalu community wedding has undergone tremendous changes. No more Paddy distribution is done. It is looked down by the present generation youth. ‘Pullu Pandalu Ceremony” known as Engagement ceremony is conducted at a grand scale. “Kanya Shulkam” or “Kattanam” meaning dowry payment from bride’s family is a must. The payment varies depending upon the qualification of the groom and kind of job he is doing. If he is a government servant, the demand is high.
Marriage halls or Function halls with latest facilities are booked for wedding. The Brahmin priest is consulted for fixing up “Muhurutham” –auspicious time and date for “Jilakara Bellam”. No wedding is complete without Brahmin priest and mantra recitation. It is more or less filmy style wedding with film songs played and some even organize orchestra. “Buffet”- a grand dinner is arranged wherein all hold a plate and go begging for food and eat by standing which is considered as manners.
My community elder Sri Mothe Jaganatham and his wife Uppallamma had a traditional wedding. His children were married in the modern filmy wedding style.
Beda Budiga Jangalu community advocated divorce and remarriages.. Divorce takes place by breaking a tiny twig either by the husband or wife in the presence of the community. This is called ‘Pullavirupuerayadam’. However, the reason for demanding divorce or separation has to be stated before the community Panchayat consisting of Elders. In majority cases separation is easily granted taking both the man and woman’s consideration. In most cases separation was granted if the couple did not beget a child. Nevertheless, after a child or children are born, the Panchayat seldom encourages for separation and has granted separation on rare occasion. If in case the man is no more willing to lead a family life with his wife and the he takes the issue before the Panchayat to decide. The panchayat makes enquiry of the case to know the reason for separation or wife suspects that his husband has illegal affair with another woman or so, then, they try to advice the man to lead life with his woman. If not convinced, he pays some amount as a fine for Panchayat and 1 Rupee 25 Paise is tied to the one corner of her free flowing end of her saree called “Kongu” and is set free. She is free now and her relation with her husband is nullified.
The women can go in for separation if her spouse is idle and not working for the family’s welfare. The Panchayat would in first instance warn the man and if he still continues to be irresponsible then Panchayat can nullify the marriage. If on the other hand the woman is no more interested with her husband and wants a separation and her man is willing to lead life with her then, the Panchayat makes enquiry on external affair of the woman with other man/ men, then the Panchayat may order for separation by imposing repayment of wedding expenses borne by her husband’s family during wedding and secondly, the woman should not marry the man with whom she has extra marital affair in the near future for some period. However, she is permitted to marry anyone after the separation.
On enquiry, my community elder said that, practice of polygamy existed, as his own father had two wives living together. Nevertheless, separation after the birth of children was a rare phenomenon.
Recently, six months ago, the Panchayat settled an issue of divorce/separation. Present generation youngster who had a love marriage was not willing to continue with the lady. Although it was a love marriage and they were living together as husband and wife for two years, woman also accepted by the man’s family. The separation move was made by the man and his woman was willing to live with him. The Panchayat consisting of thirty elders were called and after hearing to both the parties, one month time period was granted for reconciliation. Failure of which, the separation judgment would be announced by the Panchayat and the man has to pay Rs 10 Lakhs to his woman and also bear Rs 15,000/- the Panchayat meet expenses.
After one month, the issue of separation was settled down before Panchayat heads, both the parties and family members before Sub-Inspector. (Police was also intimated about the same and to be on safer side).
One of the interesting features of this community is practice of Polygamy. Widow and widower with or without children were encouraged for re-marriage by the community. Most of the men from this community had more than one wife.
Then in order to organize one of the Koyya Bommalattas, we set out towards Ammapuram. Then we came across Hanumanthapuram which is close to Ammapuram at a distance of 6 Km. I noticed lots of girl students playing in the school ground. So, we went and approached the Zilla Parishad High School Head Master Sri. B. Bhagawan. He was very much pleased and accepted our intention about the Koyya Bommalatta. It was decided to have the performance on March 1, 2013 between 3-5 pm.
On our way to Ammapuram from Janagam, my community elder narrated the story of ‘Ali Rani: Malyala Ankitam-Written: Mora Mallesh. This is in audio record form. It was interesting to catch up the story of Ali Rani- an episode from Mahabharata. This folktale was by then popular as a Burrakatha.
February 25, 2013
At Bekkal Sri Ramlingeswara Temple Jatara and YakshganaPerformance:
This month, I got the opportunity to participate and also watch rare folk art performances from Telangana region. Further, at Bekkal Bala Nagamma Yakshagana performances
I started to Bekkal at around 6:30pm with my camera and tripod. My husband was particular that I travel by car and not by bus in the late evenings. I reached Bekkal around 9:00pm. The streets were bright with sparking lights, sweets and hot bajji shpos on the either side of the main street. Vendors selling toys, balloons were attracting kids. The slopy hillock with concrete steps leads to the temple. Pournima being the first day of the Jatara, the Palakiseva of Ramalingeswaraswamy was held in the evening.
Then I met my community elder and his team who were getting dressed and make over. I then visited the temple as there for the commencement of the play there were sufficient time.At Ramalingeswara Temple premises; there are twenty-one small sanidhis, These Twenty-One sanidhis devoted to twenty-one Jaina Theerthankaras. This clearly indicates the existence of Jaina monastery and over the Kakatiya regime reconverted as Shiva temple.
Finally the play began around 9:30pm. The Play was on Bala Nagamma. Bala Nagamma: Boyinipalli Ankhitam and written by Chervirala Bagaiah. Ankhitam is the publisher. There are different writers who have written the Bala Nagamma story. However, they follow the story narration by Boyinipalli Ankhitam and Written by CherviralaBagaiah.
Summary of the Balanagamma-Folk Tale
After the death of his wife Bhoolakshmi due to a curse of the serpent king Nagendra, King Navabhoja Raju remarries and his new wife goads him to leave her seven step daughters in the forest. Bhoolakshmi’s aura saves the children and they grow up in the forest. Meanwhile One day young Balanagamma, the last of the seven sisters, is spotted by Karyavardhi Raju, her cousin and youngest of the seven sons of Ramavarma Raju, her maternal uncle, i.e. Bhoolaksmi’s brother. The seven sisters were married to the seven princes.
Elsewhere, the wicked mantrik Mayala Marathi, shows his paramour Rani Sangu that there is a more beautiful woman than her, and kidnaps Balanagamma by converting her into a puppy dog with his magical power from her palace after that. He turns Karyavardhi and his army who confronts him into statues. Balanagamma resists Mayala Marathi by telling him that she is on a 12-year vratha; the mantrik agrees to wait to savor her beauty. Years pass by, by which time Balanagamma’s son Balavardhi Raju is told by his aunts that his parents have been held captive by Mayala Marathi. Young Balavardhi enters the mantrik’s den, meets his mother and learns of the secret behind the mantrik’s life. Soon, he sets off on an adventurous journey that takes him across the seven seas to bring the parrot in which lies the mantrik’s life. He kills the mantrik, frees his parents and returns home to be anointed as the Prince.
This famous folktale narrated in Burrakatha, Oggukatha and Bommalata. Not surprising that the film of the same is made in almost all the south Indian languages. Oldest being in 1942, black and white film under AVM production with Kanchanamala, Pushpavalli, Dr.Govindarajula Subbarao, Banda KanakalingeswaraRao, Master Viswam, Balijepalli Lakshmikantham, Lanka Sathyam, Relangi Venkataramaiah, Addala Narayana Rao, Bellary Lalithaemade in Tamil and Telugu.
The beauty of the play is that the artists welcome the guests if any, donations are collected and in turn the whole family (tracing the root of the family) is wished by the artists for the donation made. Interestingly, collection of Rs 25,000/- was paid to a widow with two small children who lost her husband a couple of months ago in an accident by the Beda Budiga Jangam community .
This also made me realize that these traditional puppeteers and Yakshgana players are above 63 years. Some are nearing 80 years. The age factor is also playing a major role. With regard to Yakshagana performances, they are not able to throw voice which they did earlier; foot step or footing coordination is missing. Not able to jump and give flexible movement. Restrictive movements and poor breathe control factor while delivering dialogue or rendition of song is visible. Same is the case when it comes to manipulation of Puppets. While lifting heavy puppets and rendering songs and dialogues simultaneously, the skillful coordination is missing. Again, these puppeteers are used to perform without using modern mike systems. This is again a problem when they are asked to perform before the mike system.
February 27, 2013
Gondi Gotul Pito Dance Form
I was given the opportunity of introducing ‘Gondi Gotul Pito’ dance form at Telangana Smarakshana Janapada Kala Rupalu programme organised by Andhra Saraswat Parishad, Hyderabad. Six rare Telangana folk art forms performances were given. Each folk art form was introduced by Research Scholars, experts, folklorist form the region.
They are: Runza, Gondhal from Mahaboobnagar, Kathi dance, Gondi Gotul Pito from Adilabad district, Katthi Nrutyam from Warangal district, Therecheera from Nalagonda-Warangal district and Duppukala Rupakam from Warangal District.
The specialty of Runza Instrument is that twelve different kinds of drum beat sounds twenty four Jati sounds are generated. The rare sounds of natural disasters like earth quake, tsunami, flood or Toofan are played in this single instrument. This Runza instruments is played using hand fingers. This is specially played for Vishwa Brahmin caste. Pancha Pandava Stories as symbolic representation of Panch Bhutas and so they narrate stories and play the instrument.
Gondhal Troupe from Mahaboobnagar District- Gondhal Tarasingh Rao, Tulja Rao and Shivai Rao. The Troupe is performing this folk art form prior to Usman Shahi period. This art form is more heard and popular in Maharashtra and Karnataka region. Among Telugu speaking people, this art form is less heard, in Chandrapur region one can come across this art form. They narrate the story of ‘Yellamma-Renukadevi’.
Duppu Kala Rupam by performers from Warangal district. This art from is performed by ‘Gangaputrulu’ community –Fisherman community. They sing and narrate stories of Durgamma.
Katthi Nruthyam by Telangana Yadavas from Nalagonda district though their origin is related to Sri Krishna’s clan, however, they are shaivates who worship Lord Shiva.
Therechiralakalarupam by Yadavas of Nalgonda-Warangal district. They are known as ‘Thegadhigalu’ who narrate Katamraju story
I was asked to give an introductory about ‘Gondi tribes Gotul Pito dance forms and its significance’.
The reference of this art from was found in recently discovered 150 years old Gondi lipi at Gunjal village, Adilabad District of Andhra Pradesh. I was of the invitees to attend the function at Gunjal village in the month of January 2013. There I could gather the following information about this dance form.
In Gondi language ‘Gotul’ means Sanskrutika Kendra-Cultural centre. Here, the Gondi culture as a whole is safeguarded and protected. Here, boys and girls undergo training under trained teachers’ right from 3 years till 18 years. It is like a university, wherein all the skill development training pertaining to the life is given separately for boys and girls. It is residential. They teach about 700 Gods and demi Gods, 900 spirits posing Gods, Gotra, origin, clan, animals, birds, forest, herbs, eighteen musical instruments, sixteen Gondi dance forms, art forms, language, and so on. Every year on full moon day in the month of January Gotul pito day is celebrated.
However, any eligible boy or girl after attaining puberty express living together, their marriage is arranged with the concern of the families. However, Gotul Pito and the practices slowly, lost its essence with the advent of schooling system. Again, it is seen from negativity angle and over a period has been used in derogatory sense.
The performance given by six girls who have under gone Gondi dance training, explained the significance of ‘Gotul Pito’.
March 2013 Detailed Field work Report:
Traditional Wooden String Puppetry performance organized at Zilla Parishad High School, Hamunathapuram Village, Nerameta Mandal, Waranagal District, AndhraPradesh at 3:00 pm by Ammapuram traditional puppet performers/ traditional puppeteers led by Sri Mothe Jagantham and his team members.
Ms Vicky Hart Film maker from London, UK along with Mr. Simon Cameraman also participated as Guest viewers with prior permission from NFSC, Chennai.
About the Puppet Play:
‘Luva Kusha’ Puppet play performed keeping school students in mind as they would enjoy and get associated with the story. There is a new version or let me say as remake of old super-duper hit film ‘Sri Ram Rajyam’ played by the late Nandamuri Rama Rao and Anjali Devi. The new version (2011) played by his son Nandamuri Balakrishna as Lord Rama with Nayantara as Sita in the lead roles. It also features Akkineni Nageswara Rao, Srikanth and Sai Kumar appear in supporting roles. Music of the film is composed by Ilaiyaraaja. Sri Rama Rajyam is a 2011 devotional Telugu film directed by Bapu based on the epic Ramayana. The film depicts Lord Rama’s rule of Ayodhya after he returns home from Lanka, his separation from Sita and her reclusive life in the forest as she raises their children Lava and Kusa. The film bagged seven Andhra Pradesh State Nandi Awards, including the Nandi Award for Best Feature Film for the year 2011.
Well, when it comes to Luva-Kusha in traditional puppetry, it was first time for all the students and also for the teachers. The story starts with Ashwamedha Yagna performed by Lord Rama and continues till Luva –Kusha capturing the horse and waging war against Lakshmana, Hanuman and Lord Rama. The Puppet performance adapted from Yakshagana version by Poet, Writer and contributor or dedicated (Kavi. Rachaita Ankitam) by Sri Yadava Rayudu.
School Headmaster invited the press media to cover the performance.
In the concluding session, puppetry was related to Geography, History and developing memory skills.
March 6, 2013 at Janagam at 12:30 p m
Puppet Play ‘Chenchu Lakshmi Adi Lakshmi’ an episode from Garuchalam by Poet, Writer and contributor or dedicated (Kavi. Rachaita Ankitam) by Sri Yadava Rayudu. Here, the play starts with Lord Narasimhaswami’s exploring his region and when he meets Chenchu Lakshmi belonging to Chenchu tribes and falls in love in the first sight. He marries her and brings her to his abode Vaikhuntam where Adi Lakshmi first wife of Lord Narasimhaswami is angry, upset and is resists her entry. So, the play develops with more humour dialogues exchange between Chenchu Lakshmi and Adi Lakshmi.
The legend of Chenchu Lakshmi goes like this after slaying Hiranyakashyapa, Lord Narasimha proceeded to the Nallamala forest in his Ugra Avataram (aggressive form).The devas were worried about this form and prayed to Goddess Lakshmi to pacify him. She took form as Chenchu Lakshmi, a tribal girl, in the same forest. On seeing her, Lord Narasimha asked her to marry him. She put him through a lot of tests to calm him down completely before agreeing to marry him.
The Chenchus are a scheduled tribe of Andhra Pradesh. The Chenchus are spread all over the districts of Andhra Pradesh but mostly they are found in Prakasham, Guntur, Kurnool and Mahaboobnagar. Unlike other tribes, as per the sources, the Chenchus have no mythology that explains the creation of the world or the origin of the human beings. Chenchus adopted Hindu deities and they are connected with the stories concerning with Hindu gods and kings witches and miraculous transforms. However, the myths of Bayyanna, Narasimhaswamy, and Mallikarjunaswamy explain some of the Chenchus’ traditions and patterns of behaviour. Again as per the myth and sacred stories another belief is that the Chenchus consider Narasimhaswamy as their brother-in-law and during Narasimhaswamy festival, the Chenchus practice mock robbery of lord Narasimhaswamy. Chenchus believe that it was for compensation for elopement of their girl Chenchulakshmi.
March6, 2013 Ammapuram:
After the performance at Janagam, we then proceeded to Ammapuram to capture the village life. My Community Leader hired tow tempo car and along with the team members proceed to Ammapuram. After refreshing over a cup of tea, the team members started to dress up work for Vedhi Bhagavatham-Yakshganam performance. All spread in the front yard of Mothe Narasaiah’s house. They decided to play Jayanth-Jayapal. This is the play is about two friends. This play is written by Vadipalli Cheruvirala Balaiah.
The play lasted for one hour and then we proceeded back to Hyderabad.
April 2013 Report
April 28, 2013- Field Visit to Hanumakonda
This month filed activity deals with audio collection of ‘Beda Budiga Jagam’ Kulam-Caste history. During the conversation my community elder Sri Mothe Jaganatham begins with classification of women into four categories. This he started as he wanted to me the importance of ‘Padmini’ name.
‘Chitini, Hastini, Shankini and Padmini’. If Shankini talks-the whole Kaliyuga would tremble. ‘Ara junda edaru ite, ambuja erupu’– If Chitini and Hastini type start their conversations-the whole universe would be drowned in the sea. ‘Muguru Adavalu Poyina, Sukha raka pata pagalu chukalu pose’ If Chitini, Hastini and Shankini type all three of them start conversing with each there would be unexpected shower during sunny days. The last Padmini types are the one who has lots of love, affection and patience for all. (I don’t think I belong to the fourth type of women classification, though I share the same name).
The collection of information is on the following:
1. ‘Budiga Jagam Kulam’
2. ‘Bommalatta Vs Yakshagana’
3. ‘Padhyam/Padhyas-Couplets’ sung during performance.
Nevertheless, in order to get more information about the ‘Beda Budiga Jagam’ caste I repeated the question.
Budiga Jangalu kulam/Caste: Basanudu, Saradagalu, Bhagavatalu-Bommalattagalu, Babaji, Kattipapa, Mandahechu. Among them they can have matrimonial ties called “Kacham Pottu-Mancham Pottu” equivalent to Hindi version called “Roti-Beti”. However, all these sub caste of Budiga Jangalu have their ‘Gurus’, whom they follow and their own belief system. “Eyam pottu Kancham pottu” is possible on the basis on capacity and the nature of the person. In most cases, matrimonial ties are arranged within the caste groups and rare is from other caste. As, they know the rituals, practices and the performances, plays of their own art forms. One needs to learn, master the art form, which takes time. Then the discussion on the prefix ‘Beda’ before Budiga Jnagalu’. I failed to know the answer as who has prefixed the term and so on. However, I still failed to question rightly about the origin of Bommalatta or Yakshagana-Vedhi Bhagavatham first. I have reserved to repeat the same in my next visit.
It is the practiced of setting examples of ‘Panch Pandavas as noble men with noble qualities, so as about Lord Rama’. While describing women’s qualities or basically they believe that women are classified into four groups based on their nature. They use this bit of rhyming words also stands as guiding words for the audience. My community elder believes this classification or examples are applicable even today as Kauravas though 100 in number are not considered as role models. They see that in every play they sing and share proverbs, sayings that triggers and guides the people unconsciously. It is not wealth, power or assets that go along with the man; it is only the true nature of the human that stands with name.
‘Kulavam tho Pani ledu, Gunavanthude data;
Malavode pentalo manchi tulasi,
Artha mantulamani Ahankaru Padaradu,
Adi kula mani Mata adaradu,
Kulamula takkuva daani kudi unnadagaradu,
Kukkalatho saiayatta adaradu
Manasu kalavani chota marma nivagam radu (nilam radu),
Mala vari pottu cheyaradu,
Tali tandrula mata taganatagaradu,
Tatti kinda palu daga radu’
Kulam-Caste is not the criteria for the virtues and nobles. So is tulasi. Tulasi plant is regarded as ‘Sacred’ by all in all regions. It grows in fields, wild, in the cracked wall or even in thorny bushy areas. Still, it is regarded as sacred and worshipped or used for worshipping. So, are the people with noble qualities regarded high and respected by all and not the rich and wealthy people with any qualities.
Don’t feel pride of accumulating wealth, and don’t say anything and everything because your ‘kulam or caste’ is ranked high. One cannot tease and play with dogs, one can’t reveal or share the secrets with the no trust in person, joint partnership does not succeed, Parental teaching (mother-fathers) teaching would not damage the growth of the son, so, one can’t drink milk under the palm tree.
‘Pani cheputhe vinani paleru vadu okkadu,
Panthukulu marlapadu papuokkadu,
Dora aagna meerina dungabantu vaduokkadu,
Raja aagna meerina ranku mantri,
Tandri aagna meerina tanayundu vadu okkadu,
Baratha aagna meerina bharya okkati,
Kalayugamu manduna veeralu kala yemulu,
Darshana umbyempate jashtaka tagali undu…,
In this padhyam-couplets describes the negative qualities of the persons like- One who disobey his master (here the relationship of employer and employee is emphasized, the pupil disrespect his teacher, one who disobeys village head, minister disobeys his King, disobeying son, disobeying wife are like soldiers of King of death-Yama. Those who see them in the morning while going to work will be affected with negativity and ill-luck.
‘Soyamgamunu yavanambu praya unna
Vidya tara vidya nasya arya yenenta unna,
Tagi patiyu lekunna
Ethi Anta sunna…’
Assets, Knowledge and beauty will not add beauty to woman who is not a devoted wife with qualities of patience and perseverance.
‘Bhagyashalikku chuda palamu enniyu unna,
Pati palam kanna palamu galade,
Pai bhushanamu yenni panadigi galagina,
Pati bhushanamu kanna palamu galade,
Sakulendaru unnna sarisi juhakshiki
Pati soukyamukanna palamu galade,
Bandavulu endaru panadigi kalagina,
Pati bandavu kanna kalayu galade,
Pati palamu goru addisatikki,
Etti pati palamu goru addisatikki,
Karatalamalakamuna param padavi,
Neeku teliyanideni sarasi juhakshi…..’
In continuation with Padhyam-3; Padhyam-4 describes about the real jewel for every women is her lovable husband. A woman without a loving husband possessing all the jewels, ornaments, silk clothing’s and so on equal to zero.
Here, the couplets stress upon the ‘Husband-wife relationship’ for healthy married life. A good and loving husband and wife can set example to the society for building happy and healthy family. Being devoted to one’s husband is equal to worshipping the Almighty. One need not go to Tirupati to pray or seek God’s blessings.
‘Aakali vedugina venuka,
Sali poyina pidapakku shala mela,
Telavarina pimmata deepa mela,
Vayasudi tirina taravata varudu ela….’
This couplet is for the husbands to know and respect their wives.
What is use of serving delicious food when belly is full, What is use of the blankets when winter is gone. What is use of burning lamp in the presence of the sunlight, (oil lamps were used as source of light in the absence of electric power supply? So, the saying was burning night oil or oil in the night’). What is the use of my man who comes to me for making love when I have lost youth days?
These couplets are part of puppet and Yakshagana plays based on ‘Pathivrata women’-‘Satyavathi, Chandramathi Kanthamathi, Sita, and Anusuya .
Contradictory to the above said is a kind of woman character called ‘Prabhavathi’ from ‘Jayanth Jayapal’ play. In this play, Prabahvathi who is married still loves another man. She says the following Padhyam
‘Pushta Katina vade purushudu enuchunu,
Vorva jalani varali oorvilona
Palaku chunduru navvanti polatulakunu,
Matiki nachina vade manchi mogadu…’
In the play Prabhavathi says that-many are available in the land who tie mangalasutra and become husband, but the one whom I like, I call him as my husband.—this is relevant for today but not those days. A lady saying so was considered as unchaste woman.
People not only enjoyed the puppet play but were benefitted with the couplets and sayings. Village heads requested us to add new couplets in our play for the betterment of the village community. This was the challenge for the puppeteers to think and create in rhyming and good flow. But today, the situation is not the same- says Mothe Jaganatham, my community elder. With the technological advancement the human values, ethic system is sinking.
Here, the beauty of the traditional Puppetry, that acts as ‘Stress Busters’ and ‘Solution giver’. Perhaps, the in those days non-existence of counseling centres and counseling experts to handle the agony of people and community, traditional puppetry as folklore forms did the necessary counseling through simple and effective couplets or verses or called Padhyams and Padhyalu’.
Here, my community elder is stressing upon the importance of ‘Ethics in one’s life’. These are the couplet they sing in between the play to pass on the messages of respecting elders and flourishing in life. When daughter is given in marriage to another village, parents in order to enquire about their daughters’ welfare; would enquire from neighbors and other community people without disclosing their identity, if they get to hear good about her, they visit her house, if not they return back. This was the practice followed once upon a time. With changing time, people’s attitude, values, trust also has changed. More excuses and lies are told today over mobile phones. During his father’s period people appreciated and requested to sing some more such padhyas which would drill everyone’s mind and act as guiding force.
This is about ‘Ganadi Jangalu kulam’. I have given briefing about the same in my previous reports. “origin of Bommalatta and Mothe families’ adaptation’. In my previous reports have stated about the Mothe family’s association with Bommalatta. The quest was to know whether it was Bommalatta first and later adaption of vedhi Bhagavatham-Yakshgana’. So, as per the audio, and my community elders’ memory it started with Bommalatta and then to Harikatha and later with Yakshagana. During his great ancestors’ period there were around ten-twelve puppets based on Gayopakhyanam’- ‘Lava-Kusha’ stories. They played only two stories. These puppets got distributed during his grandfather’s period. Gayopakhyanam is a Telugu play written by Chilakamarti Lakshmi Narasimham in 1890. It is also called Prachanda Yadavam -the story of fierce Yadava King – Sri Krishna. The plot is based on war between Nara-Narayana, the incarnation of Arjuna and Sri Krishna induced by Gaya, a Gandharva King.
Further, the discussion continued about the start of Bommalatta. According to my community elder Sri Mothe Jaganatham –It started during his great ancestor’s period. They had around ten-twelve puppets based on Gayopakhyanam’- ‘Lava-Kusha’ stories. They played only two stories. These puppets got distributed during his grandfather’s period. Gayopakhyanam is a Telugu play written by Chilakamarti Lakshmi Narasimham in 1890. It is also called Prachanda Yadavam -the story of fierce Yadava King – Sri Krishna. The plot is based on war between Nara-Narayana, the incarnation of Arjuna and Sri Krishna induced by Gaya, a Gandharva King.