Culture of Andhra Pradesh
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Culture of Andhra Pradesh state in India has many aspects to it.
Andhra Pradesh's cultural history can be summarised under the sections of Art, Architecture, Literature, Cuisine, Clothing and Religion/Philosophy,language .
Art: Annamayya, Tyagaraja, Kuchipudi summarise the rich artistic traditions of Andhra Pradesh. Contributions of Annamacharya and Tyagaraja to the "grammar of sound" made Telugu language the preferred language of composition for Carnatic Music and made Andhra Pradesh the mother of all modern music. Their influence not only on Carnatic but global classical music and the organisation of sound as a medium of emotional resonance has no parallel in human history. Kuchipudi as a refinement of the ancient art of Bharathanatyam, and in the context of the unique religious and cultural traditions of Andhra Pradesh stands on par with all the great global traditions of Classical Dance.
Architecture: There are three distinct and rich architectural traditions in Andhra Pradesh. The first traces back to the building of the legendary city of Amaravathi under Satavahanas. This unique style of architecture emphasises the use of intricate and abstract sculpture with inspiration from religious themes. The second tradition draws on the enormous granite and lime stone reserves of the region and is reflected in the various temples and forts built over a very long period of time. The Temples and the ruins of Warangal stand as examples to this tradition.
Literature: As a recognised ancient language, Telugu has a rich and deep literary culture. Nannaya, Tikkana, Yerrapragada, Srinatha, Pothana, Molla (poet), and Tarikonda Venkamamba made Telugu language "The Italian of the East" - lingua franca for religious, musical composition and philosophy. The contributions of Charles Phillip Brown, Vemana, Gurram Jashuva, Sri Sri (writer) and Viswanatha Satyanarayana made Telugu a vibrant and evolving modern language. The contributions of various Telugu/Tamil/Sanskrit grammarians to the formalisation of English Grammar gave Telugu Literary traditions a truly global reach.
Cuisine: Andhra Pradesh culinary traditions are some of the richest in the world. Bandhar Laddu, Avakaya, Gongura, Pulusu, pappu charu, jonna kudu, bobbattu, kaza, arisa ..etc. draw on unique spices and rich fruit and vegetable harvests of the region. Various sauces and ancient bread making techniques that use a very diverse and rich variety of pulses are a testament to ancient Telugu culinary innovation. It is rumored that Roman king Nero lamented Romans paying more to the Chili farmers of Andhra Pradesh than to Roman treasury as taxes during the effort to rebuild Rome after the great fire. It is documented that he banned all imports from Andhra Pradesh during Rome rebuilding era. Andhra Pradesh spice traders and their ancient global trading traditions are considered the precursors to modern option-and-derivatives pricing models for commodities. Rich wine making traditions are evident in the Taati kallu and Etha Kallu produced by the region to this day.
Clothing/Fashion: Andhra Pradesh is home to some of the finest historical cloth making/fashion and dying traditions of the world. Its rich cotton production, with its innovative plant dye extraction history stand next to its diamond mining, pearl harvesting and jewelry traditions to form an impressive fashion tradition that has stood the test of time. The ancient Golconda mine is the mother of the numerous legendary gems such as the Koh-i-Noor and Hope Diamond. Andhra Pradesh had a virtual monopoly in the global jewelry industry till 1826 (founding of the diamond mines in Rhodisia - Africa) and eight of the 10 most valuable jewelry pieces on earth today trace their history back to Andhra Pradesh. Langa-Voni (Half saree), Sarees made in Kalamkari, Bidri, Nirmal paintings, fascinating weaves from Pochampalli, Gadwal, Venkatagiri are the result of this time tested (3000 year) fashion tradition. Vaddaanam, Aravanke, Kashulahaaram, Buttalu and various standard gold jewelry designs are fine examples of this continuously evolving ancient tradition.
Religion and Philosophy: These contributions can be classified into four distinct eras. Ancient Hindu traditions of Andhra Pradesh, Medieval Buddhist traditions, Modern Islamic-Hindu fusion traditions and the currently emerging Hindu-Christian fusion traditions. Dharanikota, Nagarjuna Konda monasteries and the associated literary contributions stand as a testaments to Andhra Pradesh's central role in the evolution of Ashokan Buddhism. Tirupati, the associated religious traditions of Lord Venkateswara as a personification of the merger of various Shivite and Vaishavite Hindu traditions stands as a testament to the rich and progressive religious-philosophical schools of Andhra Pradesh. The contributions of Andhra Religious traditions to Bhakti Movement (Fusion movement for Islamic, Hindu and Buddhist Traditions) inspired numerous world-renowned modern secular philosophers like Jiddu Krishnamurti to draw on this rich and progressive intellectual tradition of religion and philosophy. A living history of this rich tradition is daily visible in the lives of the people of this region and historic snap shots are frozen into stone at various times on the walls of these temples: http://www.templenet.com/andhra.html. Telugu arts and literature are an embodiment of this vibrant philosophical tradition.
The cuisine of Andhra Pradesh is reputedly the spiciest of all Indian cuisine. There are many variations to the Andhra cuisine depending on caste, geographical regions, traditions etc. Pickles and chutneys, called pachadi in Telugu are particularly popular in Andhra Pradesh and many varieties of pickles and chutneys are unique to the state. Chutneys are made from practically every vegetable including tomatoes, brinjals, and roselle (Gongura). The mango pickle Aavakaaya is probably the best known of the Andhra pickles.
Rice is the staple food and is used in a wide variety of ways. Typically, rice is either boiled and eaten with curry, or made into a batter for use in a crepe-like dish called attu (pesarattu) or dosas.
Jayapa Senani (Jayapa Nayudu) is the first person who wrote about the dances prevalent in Andhra Pradesh. Both Desi and Margi forms of dances have been included in his Sanskrit treatise 'Nritya Ratnavali'. It contains eight chapters. Folk dance forms like Perani, Prenkhana, Suddha Nartana, Carcari, Rasaka, Danda Rasaka, Shiva Priya, Kanduka Nartana, Bhandika Nrityam, Carana Nrityam, Chindu, Gondali and Kolatam are described. In the first chapter the author deals with discussion of the differences between Marga and Desi, Tandava and lasya, Natya and Nritta. In the 2nd and 3rd chapters he deals with Angi-kabhinaya, Caris, Sthanakas and Mandalas. In the 4th Chapter Karnas, angaharas and recakas are described. In following chapters he described the local dance forms i.e. Desi Nritya. In the last chapter he deals with art and practice of dance.
Classical dance in Andhra can be performed by both men and women; however women tend to learn it more often. Kuchipudi is the state's best-known classical dance forms of Andhra Pradesh. The various dance forms that existed through the states’ history are Chenchu Bhagotam, Kuchipudi, Bhamakalapam, Burrakatha, Veeranatyam, Butta bommalu, Dappu, Tappeta Gullu, Dhimsa, and Kolattam.
Harikatha (lit. "stories of the Lord"), otherwise called Katha Kalakshepa is a form of Hindu religious discourse, also known as Katha (storytelling) format, in which the story teller explores a religious theme, usually the life of a saint or a story from an Indian epic. Harikatha was originated in Harikatha Kalakshepam is most prevalent in Andhra Pradesh even now along with Burra katha. Haridasus going round villages singing devotional songs is an age-old tradition during Dhanurmaasam preceding Sankranti festival. Ajjada Adibhatla Narayana Dasu with his Kavyas and Prabandhas has made Harikatha a special art form.
- Makara Sankranti in January.
- Maha Shivaratri in February/March.
- Ugadi or the Telugu New Year in March/April.
- Sri Rama Navami celebrated in March/April 9 days after Ugadi.
- Varalakshmi Vratam in August.
- Vinayaka Chaviti in August.
- Dasara in September/October.
- Atla Tadde 3rd day in bright half of Aswiyuja month (falls in September/October in Gregorian calendar)
- Deepavali in October/November.
- Deepothsavam during the Deepavali season.
Telugu literature is highly influenced by Sanskrit literature and Hindu scriptures. Nannayya, Tikkana, and Yerrapragada form the trinity who translated the great epic Mahabharatha into Telugu. Bammera Potana is another great poet from vontimitta (kadapa dist) famous for his great classic Sri Madandhra Maha Bhagavatamu, a Telugu translation of 'Sri Bhagavatam' authored by Veda Vyasa in Sanskrit. Nannayya derived the present Telugu script(lipi) from the old Telugu-Kannada script. Emperor Krishna Deva Raya wrote and also made the famous statement : "Desha Bhashalandu Telugu lessa" meaning "Telugu is the sweetest amongst all Indian languages". Philosophical poems by Yogi-Vemana are quite famous. Modern writers include Jnanpith Award winners Sri Viswanatha Satya Narayana and Dr. C. Narayana Reddy. Revolutionary poets like SriSri and Gaddar are popular.
The state has a rich musical heritage. Many legends of the Carnatic music including two among Trinity of Carnatic music (Thyagaraja and Syama Sastri) were of Telugu descent. Other composers include Annamacharya, Kshetrayya, and Bhadrachala Ramadasu.
Folk songs are also popular in the rural areas of the state.
Andhra Pradesh is home to Hindu saints of all castes. An important figure is, Sant Yogi Potuluri Veerabrahmam was a Viswa Brahmin that even had a Brahmin, Sudhra, Harijan and Muslim disciples. Fisherman Raghu was also a Sudra. Sant Kakkayya was a chura (cobbler) Harijan saint.
Several important Hindu modern-day saint are from Andhra Pradesh. These include Nimbarka who founded Dvaitadvaita, Mother Meera who advocated Indian independence and Aurobindo Mission, Sri Sathya Sai Baba and Swami Sundara Chaitanyanandaji.
His Holiness Swami Sundara Chaitanyanandaji was born on 25 December 1947 in Kattubadipalem village, Nellore District, Andhra Pradesh.
Pilgrimages in Andhra
Simhachalam is another very popular pilgrimage of national importance. Simhachalam is said in mythology to be the abode of the savior-god Narasimha, who rescued Prahlada from abusive father Hiranyakasipu.
Srisailam is another center is national importance. It is dedicated mainly to Lord Shiva. It is one of the locations of the various Jyotirlingams. The Skanda Purana has a chapter called "Srisaila Kandam" dedicated to it, which points to the ancient origin. This is confirmed also by the fact that Tamil saints of the past millennia have sung praises of this temple. It is said that Adi Sankara visited this temple and at that time he composed his "Sivananda Lahiri". Shiva's sacred bull Vrishabha is said to have performed penance at the Mahakali temple till Shiva and Parvati appeared before him as Mallikarjuna and Brahmaramba. The temple is one of the 12 hallowed jyotirlingas; Lord Rama himself installed the Sahasralinga, while the Pandavas lodged the Panchapandava lingas in the temple courtyard.
Other Cultural Elements
Bapu's paintings, Nanduri Subbarao's Yenki Paatalu (Songs on/by a washerwoman called Yenki), mischievous Budugu (a character by Mullapudi), Annamayya's songs, Aavakaaya (a variant of mango pickle in which the kernel of mango is retained), Gongura (a chutney from Roselle plant), Atla Taddi (a seasonal festival predominantly for teenage girls), banks of river Godavari, Dudu basavanna (The ceremonial ox decorated for door-to-door exhibition during the harvest festival Sankranti) have long defined Telugu culture. The village of Durgi is known for originating stone craft, carvings of idols in soft stone that must be exhibited in the shade because they are prone to weathering.
Andhra Pradesh has many museums, including the Archaeological Museum at Amaravati near Guntur City that features relics of nearby ancient sites, the Salar Jung Museum in Hyderabad, which features a varied collection of sculptures, paintings, and religious artifacts, the Visakha Museum in Visakhapatnam, which displays the history of the pre-Independence Madras Presidency in a rehabilitated Dutch bungalow and Victoria Jubilee Museum in Vijayawada, which has a nice collection of ancient sculptures, paintings, idols, weapons, cutlery, and inscriptions.