Oral Traditions, Subaltern Culture, Role of women in British Andhra Pradesh

Oral Traditions, Subaltern Culture, Role of women in British Andhra Pradesh

Oral Traditions in Andhra pradesh

Vedic chant tradition in andhra pradesh

Andhra Pradesh has been in the forefront in preserving and propagating the Vedic Knowledge of both the forms, i.e., oral and textual traditions, for several thousands of years. There are references in Valmiki Ramayana and Mahabharata about the Vedic culture in Andhra region.

The Vedic studies went deep into all layers of the society during Satavahana period and continued without hindrance upto Kakatiya period. However, about 800 years back, the king Prataparudra had to take special emergency steps for protection of Vedic scholars and Vedic culture against the back drop of severe attacks from the enemies of Sanatana Dharma.

lambada bhat narratives

The Lambadas occupy a prominent place among the Scheduled Tribes of India. According to folklore, the nomadic originally hailed from the North western part of India. In course of time, the Lambadas migrated to various parts of the country, in search of livelihood.

The Lambada Bhats are singers, storytellers and genealogists for the Lambadas. They narrate the history, myths and legends of Lambada community. They are also from the lowermost rungs of the caste hierarchy of Lambada society. As they move from one Tanda to another practicing their profession, they are also perceived as messengers for Lambadas.

Bhagavata mela folk

Bhagavata Mela is a form of dance-drama. It is graceful with, mellifluous vocal and instrumental music to add color in its overall performance. It also contains dialogues of high diction and suggestive abhinaya. There are other symbolical, descriptive actions. Whenever there is a violent scene of war and killing in drama, the scenes are not enacted but only narrated as an incident. The Bhagavata Mela is full of dramatic interest. It is enhanced by using classical music and dance. Dialogue of high diction and suggestive strained abhinaya and other symbolical action are its hall-marks. Every actor is well trained in Bharata Natyam.

Subaltern Culture of Andhra pradesh

Gadaba  tribe and their culture

Kutum (family) is the basic unit of the Gadaba social structure.The Gadaba houses are triangular in shape. No doubt ground is in rectangular form but the roof of the house is designed in conical shape. The walls are made of mud and wooden planks. The roof is built with straw and grass. There is no specific measurement for the Gadaba house construction. It is decided by the disari after examining the kundalis (horoscope) of the inhabitants.

The families of the Gadaba society are arranged in a cluster manner. All the families of brothers are staying in a circular shape facing one another constituting a homestead area.

Marriage is the most important turning point in the life of a Gadaba. It is a bare necessity for an individual to be recognised as a complete person in a society. Especially for women marriage confers some special prestige in their own family as well as in the society as an unmarried girl cannot participate in religious functions. It is an absolute necessity to give birth to sons in Gadaba family. According to them, without a son, family will lose its continuity.

Rituals and ceremonies are regular features of Gadaba society. They observe a number of rituals as well as ceremonies throughout the year. Among the rituals observed by the Gadabas  birth and death rituals are most prominent.

The gadabas have faith in luck and superstition. Those who are superstitious consider, sneezing when one is about to start, a cat crossing the path, a man or a woman coming across with fuel or empty pots, as bad omens while going on some work or starting on some new venture. Likewise a woman carrying a potful of water, two men or a corpse coming across one’s way or the sight of an eleplant is considered as good omens. Even some consider that the domestication of cows and dogs is lucky. To rear a horse is considered a taboo. It is also said by some Gadabas that they do not touch horse. Because they consider it as their rival as they were palanquine bearers while the horse used to carry man at a greater speed than themselves.

Gadabas consider that hearing the howling of a sakana Baftshi in early hours of the day, is a sure sign of death of an ailing person in the habitat. Similarly while going out for work, if a fox is seen on the left side it is considered to be a bad omen. If the fox passes from left to right it is a good omen and if it passes from right to left it is a bad omen.

People use mascots mostly for protection against illness. Those who believe in evil eye, protect themselves by burning a sickle and taking it three times around the head of the person suffering from the effect of the evil eye. Secondly, ash is taken down from head to toe three times and thrown into the dustbin. Monday, Thursday and Friday are considered lucky and generally during these days they start on a journey or undertake any new business.

Savara tribal culture

Savara, also called Saora are tribe of Andhra pradesh. They are also distributed in the states of Orissa and Madhya Pradesh.

The Savara tribal art — Edisinge — that once flourished in the Eastern Ghats, is on the verge of extinction owing to the change in the religious profile and lifestyle of the community.

The tribe’s association with nature and wildlife is vividly depicted through drawings on mud walls by using vermillion, rice powder and charcoal. The lifestyle, modes of agriculture, hunting, festivals and life in the forest are the prime themes. The art works are replaced by new ones once in two or five years.


Koya Tribal culture

The Koyas are one of the few multi-lingual and multi-racial tribal communities living in Andhra pradesh and some other parts of eastern india. he story of the Koyas goes back to pre-historic times. They seem to have had a highly evolved civilization in the past in which they were a ruling Tribe.

According to the Koya mythology, life originated from water. The friction between the fourteen seas resulted in the emergence of moss, toads, fish and saints. The last saint was God and He first created Tuniki and Regu fruits.

Birth, marriage and death are the three important aspects of life and each event is celebrated on a grand scale in Koya society. The funeral ceremony among the Koyas is strikingly peculiar. The corpse is carried on a cot accompanied by the kinsmen and villagers including women. They symbolically offer material objects like grains, liquor, new clothes, money and a cow’s tail by placing them on a cot besides the corpse and the whole cot is placed on the pyre with the feet towards the west. They generally burn the corpse. The corpses of pregnant women and children below five months old are buried. They have a ceremony on the eleventh day after the death which is called “Dinalu”. At this time they believe that the spirit of the dead comes back and resides in the earthern pot called “Aanakunda”. The occasion of death is a common concern in which all the relatives share the burden and expenditure of the family of the deceased. After the ceremony is over, they sing, dance and have feasts.

Most of their festivals are related to agricultural operations. Kolupu is one such occasion which comes during November. The Koyas worship the Earth-Goddess “Bhudevi” and they enlist the co-operation of the Goddess by offering animal sacrifices during the festival. They believe that sowing seeds that are soaked in sacrificial blood brings them good crops.




Konda Reddis Tribal culture

The Konda Reddis of Andhra Pradesh are one of the tribal groups which depend to a great extent on slash-and-burn cultivation. They inhabit the wooded hills flanking the Godavari River where it breaks through the barrier of the Eastern Ghats.

Konda Reddis have their own institution of social control called ‘Kula Panchayat’. Each village has a traditional headman called ‘Pedda Kapu’. The office of the headman is hereditary and the headman is also the Pujari (priest) of he village deities. The younger brother or nearest male relative of ‘Pedda Kapu’ acts as his assistant and substitutes in case of absence of Pedda Kapu from village and he is called ‘Pinna Pedda’. The offences like adultery, incest and cases of divorce and inter dining with persons of other community are dealt by the village panchayat. The men and women folk jointly perform dance on festive and marriage occasions.

Role of women in British Andhra Pradesh

Women of Andhra pradesh played an important role in the awekning of national feelings in Andhra pradesh.

The women of Nellore played a key role in India’s freedom struggle. Many of them donated their land and jewellery, unmindful of the punishment from the British police. Paturu Balasaraswatamma, a Nellore resident, handed over all her gold ornaments to a group of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s followers who were making bombs. Ponaka Kanakamma is remembered for her contribution to the Sri Kasthuri Devi Vidyalayam in Nellore and the Pinakini Satyagraha Ashram in Padugupadu. The vidyalayam was set up to ensure that girls in the region were educated, as their parents were reluctant to send them to co-educational schools.

The construction of the 22-acre Pinakini Satyagraha Ashram on the banks of the Pennar began in 1921 with funds donated by Kanakamma and others. It was completed in 1925 with financial support from Rustumji of the Indian National Congress Committee, and Munagala Raja. The ashram was inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi. Mahatma Gandhi visited Nellore in 1921, 1929 and 1933. The people donated liberally to his Handloom Fund and the Harijan Fund.

Duvvuri Subbamma was a freedom fighter. She born in 1880 in Daksharamam, East Godavari district, Andhra Pradesh. A child bride, she was married at the age of ten. She was widowed at a very young age. After her husband’s death, she took up activism and joined the Quit India Movement against the British Raj. She took part in the civil disobedience movement and strongly advocated total freedom from British rule in India.

In 1922 she organized the women’s congress committee. In 1923 she organized a meeting in Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh, where hundreds of women volunteers attended the Kakinada Congress Mahasabha. Subbamma organized Andhra Mahila Sabhas that trained and educated women in the national freedom movement and was instrumental in galvanizing support of the women in the Indian independence movement. She extensively traveled throughout Andhra Pradesh promoting women’s empowerment.



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