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The fading sound of the Kinnera

In asking for donations for Kinnera folksinger Dakalli Poshappa from Narayanpet district, Telangana, piqued our interest in this musical community.

Published: 24th June 2020 11:21 PM  |   Last Updated: 25th June 2020 11:08 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

HYDERABAD: A fundraiser on a crowdfunding site titled ‘Save Telanagana Folklore tradition and Dakkali Poshappa, Kinnera singer’ brings into focus the declining patronage to the stringed instrument ‘Kinnera’ from the Deccan region and of its nomadic musicians. In asking for donations for Kinnera folksinger Dakalli Poshappa from Narayanpet district, Telangana, piqued our interest in this musical community.

Poshappa is one of the few survivors who belong to the community of performers who sing as well as play ballads in Telugu language. Talking on the phone, Poshappa says he is 58 -years-old and was taught these songs by his father, Buggaiya when he was just nine years old. Associated with an already struggling art form, Poshappa and his family are particularly hit by this pandemic. With no earnings over the past few months, his limited savings have also been exhausted.

He decries, “I cannot go out and perform due to my age and ailments. I get no pension and have no permanent house either.” Poshappa sings songs of Meera Saheb, Panduga Sayyanna, Bandlolla Kurmanna and other folklore. He also makes the Kinnera instrument meticulously. “There are very few surviving performers in and around the Mahbubnagar, Narayanpet districts of Telangana,” informs Poshappa. Jaywant Naidu, a writer on art and culture started this fundraiser on Milaap. Economically weak, they do not have their own place of living or stable income, and suffer from health issues.

The Kinnera folk performers mainly belong to the Dakkali caste and their main profession is to narrate ‘Jambavapuranam’. The ‘Jambavapuranam’ used to be narrated from palm leaf manuscripts which were handed over from generation to generation. Shares Jaywant, “The Dakkalis used to set up a temporary shelter outside the Madiga community living areas and give their performance. In return, they had the right to demand grains and alms.

The Madiga patrons would oblige with satisfactory offerings, else the Dakkali performer would make an effigy of them and hurl choicest of abuses and curses before burning the effigy.” They moved around and sang songs not just to entertain, but also help know the rich history of the State. Jaywant in a paper on ‘Nomadic Singers of Telangana’ which he presented at the second international seminar on ‘Telangana through Ages: Perspectives from Early and Medieval period’ in Hyderabad in January 2018, by the Department of Archaeology and Museums, government of Telangana writes: “There is a distinct style of rendition of their performance with the language and rhetoric rendition of folklores which could highlight or challenge an establishment.” Jaywant says,”The instrument is also seen in many paintings from the Deccan region.” If found a mention during the times of Veera Shaiva philosophy of Basavanna and his followers, adds he.

‘Dakkali artistes sang along with their Kinnera’s many songs including Pedolaku, Coolilaku, Pellillu chesindu, Papamedi cheyaledu pandugolla sayanna, Veyilakoti rupayalu meeku estham, Sarakaralu, and Desham meda undale pandugolla sayanna. As one understands, these performers got more or less restricted to their village surroundings, and the common people or people from cities hardly got to understand their art of storytelling.

Tamanna S Mehdi  tamanna @newindian express.com   @tamannamehdi

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