On the verge of extinction

Published Jan 16, 2014, 2:53 pm IST
Updated Mar 19, 2019, 6:38 am IST

Vijayawada: The swift changes taking place in mainstream society are evident by the diminishing numbers of Haridasulu and Gangireddula communities, symbols of three-day harvest festival Sankranti, with the new generation reluctant to practice the tradition.

Traditionally, Haridasulu, with Akshayapatra (utensil to collect alms) on their head, a ‘tambura’ on their right shoulder and ‘chitadalu’ in their left hand, chanting ‘Rama keertans’ visit every house, seeking alms during the festival.

This Sankranti, only a very few Haridasulu were seen wandering the streets of the city.

A. Viswanatham, a Haridasu, said, “Earlier, Haridasulu began wandering the roads a month before Sankranti chanting Sankeertans. However, the new generation is reluctant to practice this tradition hence this culture is gradually disappearing.”

He said that only the Dasari community and its sub-castes are eligible to become Haridasulu.

“As these groups can avail reservations, the younger generation is giving preference to education and are opting for jobs,” Viswanatham said.

S. Shanmukha Sarma, a priest, revealed that during the rule of Lord Rama, people were wealthy and prosperous and thus there was no one to receive the ‘alms’. “This led Lord Rama to create Haridasulu, whose profession is chanting keertans to receive alms,” he said.

Sarma said that for the past decade, he was noticing that the Haridasulu are gradually disappearing.

“This year, I only noticed about 20 to 30 Haridasulu. The state government must do something to save the tradition,” Sarma said.

Similarly Gangireddulavallu go around with decorated bulls seeking alms.

Earlier, members of this community lived in large numbers at Gangireddula Dibba of the city, but have now migrated from there.

G. Basavanna, a Gangireddula community elder, lamented that the present generation is “feeling ashamed to collect alms. Only a few elderly Gangireddulavallus are continuing the tradition,” he said.

Expressing his apprehension over the gradual disappearance of these traditions, Andhra Arts Academy secretary M. Saibabu appealed to cultural organisations to protect the symbols of the Sankranti festival by encouraging these communities.

Location: Andhra Pradesh


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