Preserving Telangana’s folk music heritage

Oggu Katha performances are integral to festivals, drawing large audiences and fostering community spirit.
The folk music traditions continue to resonate in Telangana’s cultural identity but they face challenges in the modern era.
The folk music traditions continue to resonate in Telangana’s cultural identity but they face challenges in the modern era.Photo | Express

HYDERABAD: Music, the mother of all arts and the most primal form of expression, possesses a magical power to stir emotions through simple vocal vibrations. Its impact on humanity extends far beyond imagination; it has shaped history, unravelled scientific mysteries, and molded cultures and civilisations. We celebrate the spirit of music and its profound contributions to the history of Telugu land — from the vibrant ‘Bathukamma’ folk songs to the divine ‘keerthanas’ of the revered Annamayya.

While these folk music traditions continue to resonate in Telangana’s cultural identity, they face challenges in the modern era, such as the dominance of mass media and entertainment, which diminish their popularity among younger generations. Addressing this issue, CE speaks with Dr Surya Dhananjay, Professor of Telugu and Folk Literature at Osmania University, and Prof Darla Venkateswara Rao, Former Head of the Department of Telugu at the University of Hyderabad.

“Telangana’s folk music traditions have played a crucial role in social movements, particularly during the Telangana movement,” says Dr Surya. “These songs were powerful tools for mobilisation, raising awareness, and garnering support for the cause,” he added.

Dr Darla Venkateswara Rao
Dr Darla Venkateswara Rao

Discussing significant branches of Telugu and Telangana folk music, Dr Darla remarks, “One of the most prominent forms is ‘Oggu Katha,’ a captivating storytelling tradition deeply rooted in Telangana’s folk heritage. The term ‘Oggu’ refers to the tambourine-like instrument used by storytellers who narrate tales of gods, heroes, and everyday life, accompanied by musicians and dancers. Oggu Katha performances are integral to festivals, drawing large audiences and fostering community spirit.”

He continues, “There’s also a devotional folk art form inspired by the writings of Annamayya, a revered saint-poet of the 15th century. Known for his devotional compositions, Annamayya Keerthanalu are soulful melodies dedicated to Lord Venkateswara, embodying deep spiritual devotion.”

Both professors stress the importance of cultural awareness, particularly among youth. “Names like Jamma Mallari Kuruma, Midde Ramulu, and Nagilla Yadhagiri may not be widely recognised, but it’s our collective responsibility to preserve these names and art forms,” remark the academicians. “After all, these melodies have shaped our heritage and identity.”

Music is not just nourishment for the soul; it sustains culture itself. As we observed World Music Day recently, let us remember our roots and listen to the soulful melodies of Telugu land that continue to inspire and enrich our lives.

Related Stories

No stories found.

X
The New Indian Express
www.newindianexpress.com