Art forms are the joyous manifestation of the culture and tradition of a region. Be it dance or song or any other act, they are used as modes of expressions of the legends and history which have been woven over the years by our previous generations and are thirsty to be passed on to the posterity.
Srikakulam is a land of cultural richness. A number of art forms have been performed for years to spread the word about the local traditions. Though the frequency of performance has decreased today, those being performed only in the festive seasons, people still find the beauty in it and take pride in their elaborate past.
Below are the most popular folk arts of Srikakulam.
Tapetta Gullu is the most popular art form of the Srikakulam district. The art form is performed by the shepherd community. At night the artists sing songs to keep predators away from their sheep. This art form is focused on portraying man’s ability of transforming himself according to the environment and his power to tame the forces of nature as well. This form of art has a ritualistic association.
Tapetta Gallu is performed to invoke the blessings of the rain Goddess, Gangamma and Lord Vishnu.A man carries around a pot initially that symbolises the rain Goddess. It is followed by singing songs in melodious rhythm in the praise of Lord Vishnu.
Around 15 to 20 men present dance moves in synchronisation with the songs. They wear anklets and small drums around their chests.The drums are known as Tapetta Gundlu and hence the name Tapetta Gullu. Over the years, the art has evolved and today acrobatic feats have become a part of the art form. The artists are skilled and have acquired great stamina through practice.
Now, Tapetta Gallu is performed only during the festive season yet the enthusiasm of the artists as well as the audience to perform and consume the art is still the same.
This is another interesting art form, performed by a particular tribe by the name of chenchu. They dress very differently in tribal attire with garments of hide and headgears decorated with colorful feathers. Chenchu Bhagavatham is a narrative art form.
Descriptive songs infuse the surrounding, portraying the divine romance of Lord Vishnu and His consort. It was initially performed with the intention of spreading social welfare messages but gradually took the form of a folk art. A man dressed as a woman leads the performance by singing songs of mythological importance.
There are other artists to accompany who play percussion instruments called ‘Jamkus’. Though performed by the aboriginal tribal, a close look at Chenchy Bhagavatham will not only give an insight into our vast literature but also the traditional and cultural richness that we have pushed into insignificance.
One of the most intriguing art forms is Thimsa Dance. It is a mesmerising dance form performed by the tribal communities in the Eastern Ghats of Srikakulam. The village Seethampeta is especially famous for this. In Thimsa, the males and females are simply dressed yet are in joyous moods. The males sing romantic songs to attract the females to dance with them.
There are different forms of Thimsa . Some of them are Bode Thimsa, Bagh Thimsa and so on. The Savaras attach great value to it. During Chaitra Parvam, Savaras extend invitations to neighbouring villages and dance in uttar merriment.The Savaras call it Sankidi Kelchar.
MY MY Gurram:
This art form is also popular among the Savaras. They live a reclusive life on the hills. Nevertheless they make it a point to establish their cultural identity and make it wide spread.
While performing one man gets dressed as a horse and dances to the tunes. Another man wears a devil’s mask and holds a bunch of grass. He utters My My Guram repeatedly which means Oh! Horse! Come!please come!.
Songs convey the quarrel story between a husband and wife which ends in compromise. It is extensively performed during the festive seasons where the artists go from door to door performing. It ends with the sacrifice of a pig in front of the Goddess and its subsequent distribution.
This is an art form with immense devotional value. It is facilitated mainly by the temples. On special and pious occasions, like karthika masam and Ram Navami, around 20 villagers wearing uniforms, revolve around the deities, singing songs from the mythology.It is usually an intense folk art and gets performed for more than 10 hours and often throughout the night.
The kalpatharuvu which is a bronze tree with 108 lights is the centre of attraction. This art form gets its name from the percussion instrument ‘Chekka’ which is played by the artists to add rhythm to their songs. Though the modern educated youth find shy to perform this and do not express desire to absorb the art form, the word of cultural and mythological awareness it spreads can neither be forgotten nor undermined.