Vijayawada: The ancient Haridasulu community too is shedding traditions and turning modern in this digital era, adopting QR codes for alms and using mopeds fitted with audio players to wander around streets to collect alms during the Sankranti festival season.
The community is gradually disappearing from the mainstream society due to swift social changes. Fewer in numbers, the modern Haridasulu have printed QR codes on their tamburas and collecting alms from people this year.
The Haridasulu have been a prominent presence in public space during the three-day harvest festival, Sankranti. The new generation of them is reluctant to practise their traditional roles. The Haridasulu with akshayapatra (utensil to collect alms) set on head, musical instrument tambura on the right shoulder and chitadalu (castanets/cymbals) on the left hand, used to chant Rama keertans and visit every house to collect alms during the festival.
Their number began dwindling in the streets in recent years of Sankranti festival. This time, too, only a few Haridasulu were seen around. The tradition itself is dying down.
Interestingly, Haridasulu are no more walking through the streets; they are moving around on mopeds. They do not chant the keertans anymore. Instead, they play the recorded sankeertans through mini audio players and via the speakers fitted to the mopeds.
Also, the placement of akshayapatra changed from head to the stand of the moped. People are putting alms (cash) on the bike/moped akshyapatras and paying through UPIs by scanning the QR codes.
A Haridasu, A. Visawandham, said that some people are facing difficulty to give alms in currency due to the problem of shortage of coins. Hence, Haridasulu are using QR codes to collect alms. Haridasulu started wandering through streets a month before Sankranti, chanting the sankeertans, in the past. But, the new generation is reluctant to practise this tradition.
Viswanadham said that children in their families used to learn sundarakanda and Bhagavatam and chant them as also other keertans, but the present generation lacked the initiation. This is also a reason for the gradual disappearance of the Haridasu tradition during Sankranti.
The Dasari community and its sub-castes form into Haridasulu. Since these groups have reservation facility, the younger generation is giving preference to education and taking up various low-level government jobs and also getting employed in the private sector.
Senior priest Gopal Sastry noted that people enjoyed a life of prosperity during the Kingdom of Lord Rama. There was no one to receive alms. Noticing this, the Lord created Haridasulu, a community to practise the profession of chanting keertans to receive alms.
Haridasulu are gradually disappearing. This year, the streets saw only a handful of Haridasulu....