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Culture of Andhra Pradesh


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Culture of Andhra Pradesh

If in Andhra Pradesh, it would be difficult for you to miss the rich cultural heritage that the whole state is steeped in. One will rarely come across a traditional household devoid of Carnatic music CDs, knowledge of Kuchipudi or a mini library stacked with Telugu literature. So let's begin our knowledge of Telugu culture, art and craft and cuisine by listening to Tyagraja's Krithis.

Andhra Pradesh Culture

Classical Music of Andhra Pradesh
  • Jagdanada Karaka
  • Dudukugala Nanne
Different people, different religions, different languages, different traditions and different festivals are what make Andhra Pradesh a vibrant and varied place. Its magnificent culture has impact of various dynasties including Mughals, Cholas, and Chalukyas of past era and all of them have gifted some kind of art to this majestic state from time to time. Some of the marvelous architecture of that time depicts the craftiness of those people. Kolamis, Bhagatas, Gadabas, Savaras, Koyas and Khonds are among the main tribes of this beautiful state. People here enjoy all the festivals of the nation. However, the state has some vivid festivals of its own as well and some of those include Pongal, Lumbini Festival, Vinayaka Chaviti, Visaka Utsav, Deccan Festival, Ugadi, Makara Sankranthi and Rayalaseema Food and Dance Festival. Kuchipudi dance style is the gift of Andhra Pradesh only to the entire nation. All of these factors make this state unique with a rich blend of different cultures.

Dance and Music of Andhra Pradesh

While following all the rules of rag and tal of Indian classical music, Andhra Pradesh offers some Dance of Andhra Pradeshunique and exciting music composed in Telugu language for its people to enjoy. All of the dynasties, which have ruled this state, have left their essence on its music as well. Some of the renowned vocalists of the state include Srirangam Gopalaratnam, Sarangapani, Nookala Chinna Satyanarayana, Mangalampalli Balamuralikrishna and Nedunuri Krishnamurthy while, famous composers include Bhadrachala Ramadasa, Mudduswami Dikshita, Annamacharya, Thyagaraja and Syama Sastri. Rural areas of the state also enjoy folk songs just like the other states of this varied nation.

Kuchipudi is not only a dance form, but it is a symbol of Andhra Pradesh. It is for sure the best form of classical dance of Andhra Pradesh. Most of the people of Andhra Pradesh enjoy the dancing practice including both men and women. However, it is mostly learned by the women usually. Folk dance is also popular and found in forms of Carcari, Rasaka, Danda Rasaka, Perani, Prenkhana, Suddha Nartana, Bhandika Nrityam, Kolatam, Gondali, Shiva Priya, Kanduka Nartana, Carana Nrityam and Chindu.

Kuchipudi in Andhra Pradesh

Kuchipudi derives its name from a village in the Divi Taluka of Krishna district bordering the Bay of Kuchipudi DancerBengal. Kuchipudi as a traditional dance form flourished for hundreds of years. It was held in high respect by the rulers of the Deccan. Tana Shah in 1678 granted the lands around Kuchipudi to the Brahmins who performed Kuchipudi and as a result some of the Brahmins also have Kuchipudi as their surname.

Such was the power of Kuchipudi dance form that at times the dancers could even wield social and political power. The play-cum-social commentary staged is 1502 one such example. The play portrayed the fate of the the people who were being ill-treated by a local raja. After the performance, the people were freed from the atrocities of the raja but the dancers were sought protection from the raja and his army.

Did you Know?

Over 2,800 Kuchipudi dancers, including more than 200 natyagurus created a Guinness World Records on December 26, 2010 at Hindolam Thillana in GMC Balayogi Stadium in Hyderabad.

Modern Kuchipudi what we see today got its present form in the 20th century.  Several people were responsible for taking it out from the villages to the stage and the most notable among them was guru Lakshminarayan Shastry.  Some other personalities who popularized Kuchipudi are Vempati Chinna Satyam, C.R. Acharyalu, and Dr. Nataraja Ramakrishna.

Watch a Kuchipudi dance recital

Kuchipudi DancersIdentify these famous Kuchipudi dancers?

Andhra Pradesh Cuisine

Andhra Cuisine also known as Telugu cuisine is influenced by the cultural heritage of the region and Nawabi influence. Andhra cuisine is hot and tangy and being the largest h producer of rice in India, most of the dishes are rice-based. Andhra Pradesh is also the largest producer of chilli and that accounts for the food being hot and spicy. Most of the people of Andhra Pradesh have both vegetarian and non-vegetarian food.

Difference between Telangana and Andhra cuisine

Though Telangana and Andhra cuisine are mostly similar, yet there are a couple of distinct features that make the two unique and easy to distinguish. In Telangana, spring onions and coriander seeds are used a lot in their food which is avoided by coastal Andhra as it is believed to generate body heat. In Andhra Kodi vepudu or chicken fry is made using Guntur chillies, coconut and onion gravy while in Telangana, the tangy flavour in kodi vepudu is because of the use of tamarind.

Breakfast Menu of Andhra Cuisine

A typical breakfast of Andhra Pradesh will include idli (rice- and lentil-based steam cake), Andhra dosa (a rice- and urad dal-based pancake eaten with chutney and sambhar), vada (deep-fried lentil dough),  upma (broken wheat flour), Atukulu (Moist Rice flakes sautéed in little oil also known as Poha in northern India) or puri and potato gravy.

Lunch/Dinner of Andhra Cuisine

Besides the food, the presentation is of utmost importance in most Telugu households and also in hotels.While traditional Andhra households serve food in stainless steel utensils, in rural households, it is served in arati aaku (banana leaves). While pappu (dal) and kooralu (curries) are placed to the right, pickles and raita and Pappulu Podi (Dal based powdered condiment) are placed to the left of the diner. Vegetarian main dishes include:

Vepudu (Fry) crispy fried vegetables, Pappu (lentil), Pappu Koora (Lentil based dish), Podi (Powdered Dal based condiment or seasoning), Gojju (Gravy), Tomato or coriander seed base, Pulusu Koora (Sour Paste or Gravy with boiled vegetables).

A very popular Andhra combo is mudda pappu (plain toor dal cooked with salt) with Avakaya. The last item of the meal. Perugu (curd) is normally consumed with an accompaniment like pachadi or ooragaya.

Lentil dish of AndhraIdentify this popular Andhra lentil dish

Non-vegetarian Cuisine of Andhra Pradesh

Apart from a variety of vegetarian dishes, majority of the population also eat non-vegetarian dishes. Seafood, Lamb and poultry products are consumed in high quantities. Apart from the very popular Hyderabadi Biryani, the other non-vegetarian dishes popular in the region are Palaav or chicken palaav. Royyala palav made with shrimps is also popular in Andhra Pradesh. Kodi (Chicken) Koora and Mutton (Lamb) koora are two popular non-vegetarian dishes made with variety of spices.

Talakaya Kura: Meat gravy with bold flavours

Chepala Pulusu: Fish curry with freshly ground spices

Endu Chapala Vankaya: Dry flavoured fish cooked with brinjal

Royyala Kura: Prawns cooked in a paste of tamarind and onion

Kodi Gudla Pulusu: Egg curry with chopped onions, green chilies and coriander

Sweets and Savouries of Andhra Pradesh

The Telugu speaking people have a sweet tooth. They love their mouth-watering sweets like Kakinada kaja, Bobbatlu,  Booralu and Bandhar Ladoo. Most of the sweets are cooked in ghee to give that unique flavour.

Andhra CuisineDo you know this popular sweet dish?

Festivals and Fairs of Andhra Pradesh

Just like any other state of the vivid nation India, Andhra Pradesh also celebrates most of the festivals including Diwali, Holi, Dasara, Eid, Christmas, Easter, Moharram, Ramadan, Maha Shivaratri, Krishan Janmashtmi, Raksha Bandhan and others with full enthusiasm every year. However, there are certain festivals that represents the state and its uniqueness on a national level, as these festivals are usually celebrated only in Andhra Pradesh and some neighboring states as well. Some of these festivals include Pongal, Ugadi, Makara Sankranti, Vinayaka Chaviti, Attla Taddi, Deccan Festival, Lumbini Festival, Tirupati Festival, Visakha Utsav and Rayalaseema Food and Dance Festival. Let us take a look at some of the important ones of these festivals and fairs here.

Festivals of Andhra PradeshDeccan Festival

Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation organizes Deccan Festival in the month of February every year. The festival is celebrated for five days and showcase crafts, dances, arts and music of the state. Hyderabad comes alive every year during that time with mushairas, dance, food and festivities.

Lumbini FestivalLumbini Festival

Named after Lumbini, the birth place of Lord Buddha, Lumbini Festival is dedicated to the religion of Buddhism. It is celebrated every year in Nagarjunsagar in Hyderabad to relive the heritage of Buddhism. Organised by the Department of Tourism of the Government of Andhra Pradesh, it is a 3 day festival in the month of December.

Festivals of Andhra PradeshTirupati Festival

Tirupati Brahmotsavam is no doubt one of the most awaited festival of the state. It is celebrated in the month of September / October for nine days at the premises of Tirumala Venkateswara Temple, commonly known as Tirupati Balaji or Tirupati Tirumala located in Chittor district of the state.

Festivals and Fairs of Andhra PradeshVisakha Utsav

Another festival showcasing the arts, music, dances and crafts of the state, Visakha Utsav is organized by the Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation. The main purpose of this festival is to enhance the tourism of the state at a grand level.

Ugadi FestivalUgadi Festival

Commonly known as the Telugu New Year, Ugadi is celebrated in the month of March / April every year. Decorating the houses, wearing new clothes and preparing special food to offer to the God and distributing the same once the rituals are completed are the common traditions of this festival.

PongalPongal Festival

Renowned as the “Harvest Festival”, Pongal is for sure the most popular festival of not only Andhra Pradesh but entire South India. It is a four day festival celebrated in the month of January every year and celebrates the beginning of harvesting crops in the fields.

Dance Festival of Andhra PradeshRayalaseema Food and Dance Festival

Organized by the Department of Tourism, Andhra Pradesh in the month of October every year, Rayalaseema Food and Dance Festival is another platform for the crafters and art performers to showcase their crafts, art, dance, cuisine and music in front of a huge audience.
Festival of Andhra PradeshIdentify this festival feast.

Literature of Andhra Pradesh

Ancient drama, poems, stories and epics are all part of one of the oldest literature of India, Telugu literature. It is influenced by Hindi and Sanskrit literature in several ways and numerous Telugu writers and poets have converted some of the great works of Hindi and Sanskrit in Telugu language. One of the most popular conversion of the epic 'Mahabharatha' in Telugu was done by Tikkana,Yerrapragada and Nannayya. 'Sri Bhagavatam', a masterpiece of Ved Vyasa, was converted by Bammera Potana as Sri Madandhra Maha Bhagavatamu in Telugu.

Literature of Andhra Pradesh

Manu Caritra, Vijaya Vilasam, Kanyasulkamu, Bhaaskara Satakamu, Andhra naayaka Satakamu, Sumatee Satakam and Mahaaprasthanaam are some of the notable gifts of Telugu literature. Many writers and poets of Telugu literature have been awarded from time to time for their great work in literacy. Amuktamalyada  by the Emperor Krishna Deva Raya, Philosophical poems by Yogi-Vemana are among some of the renowned work of Telugu literature. Credit for the deriving present Telugu script from the old Telugu – Kannada script goes to Nannayya. Some of the famous writers of the modern Telugu literature include Dr. C. Narayana Reddy and Sri Viswanatha Satya Narayana.

Art and Craft of Andhra Pradesh

Crafting has always been part of Andhra Pradesh from ancient times. Various people have learned these skills over the years from their fathers and the same goes on from generation to generation to preserve and keep this craftsmanship alive.

Art of Andhra PradeshIdentify this art of Andhra Pradesh.

Different kinds of arts and crafts have flourished in the state of Andhra Pradesh and all of them offer their uniqueness and authenticity to its visitors. Some of the famous crafts of Andhra Pradesh include wooden toys from Kondapalli, stone crafts and idols (production and carvings) of Durgi village, Kalamkari (ancient textile art form), doll making, redwood carvings of Tirupati and many more. Here are some of the most famous arts and crafts from Andhra Pradesh.

Brassware of Andhra PradeshBudithi Brassware
Budithi Brassware belongs to the Budithi village of Srikakulam district and involves creating different shapes from alloys.

Craft of Andhra PradeshDurgi Stone
Another great art of crafting from the vivid state of Andhra Pradesh, Durgi Stone crafts are part of the Durgi village, located at a mere distance of Macherla in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh.   

Wooden toys from Andhra PradeshEtikoppaka Wooden Crafts
Toys and dolls made out of “Poniki” wood are the specialty of Etikoppaka Wooden Crafts. Etikoppaka is located in the Visakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh and is renowned for its wooden crafts.

Art and craft in Andhra PradeshVeena Manufacturing
One of the very few places left for Saraswati Veena manufacturing, Bobbili located in Vizianagaram district is definitely the one to visit.

Cotton textile in Andhra PradeshKalamkari
Another art of cotton textile, Kalamkari is the craft of hand painted and block printed fabrics and is used for decorations purpose mainly. However, people also use it to make religious ornaments and other crafts.

Saree from Andhra PradeshMangalagiri Sarees

Mangalgiri Sarees are the product of Mangalgiri, which is located at a mere distance of about 12 Kms from Vijaywada district of Andhra Pradesh. These sarees are prepared with the Mangalgiri Cotton.

Customs and Traditions of Andhra Pradesh

People of different ethnicity including Hindu, Muslim, Christian and followers of Buddhism are in abundance in the state of Andhra Pradesh, which makes it a place full of different customs and traditions of all of these religions. Also different areas such as rural, urban and tribal give birth to different traditions and customs to be followed. Classification of the traditions of Andhra Pradesh can be done into ancient Hindu traditions, medieval Buddhist traditions, modern Islamic –Hindu fusion traditions and Hindu – Christian fusion traditions of latest time. Some of the customs of this state are full of sense and while others can be a bit weird for some. For example, when a baby is born with the umbilical cord around its neck, its family members anxiously wait 21 days. On 21st day, a goat is sacrificed and its intestines are wrapped around the baby’s neck, if it is still alive. This ceremony is known as Oovala or Irvai-okati ceremony in the state.

Attires of Andhra People

Most of the people of Andhra Pradesh believe in simplicity and tradition and usually traditional wear are the favorite of them. Men prefer to wear lungi, jubba (kurta), Pancha (Dhoti) and Pai Pancha (Veil) usually and women always prefer to wear Cheera or Sari. Usually Dhotis worn by men are of white color and have golden border on the same. Kajeeravaram, Mangalgiri cotton and Dharmavaram sarees are the favorite among the women of Andhra Pradesh. When it comes to girl’s clothing in Andhra Pradesh Parikini and Langa Oni (Half Sari) are the favorite traditional wear for the most of parts of Andhra Pradesh. On different occasions and festivals, silk sarees are worn by the women and girls of Andhra Pradesh.

Telugu Attire

However, with the recent development and growth of the state, people are leaning towards the western wear more and dresses such as jeans, shirts, pants, t-shirts for men and salwar kameez, jeans, tops, skirts, shorts, shirts, leggings, jeggings and churidaar salwar kurta for women and girls are finding their own way in this traditional state. Clothing style has changed especially in the big cities of the state rapidly and people in these cities find modern western wear more comfortable and stylish as compared to the traditional wear. And wearing pearls jewelry over modern and traditional wear both has become a status symbol for all of the women of Andhra Pradesh.

Andhra Pradesh Costumes

On the other hand, Lambadies, a tribal group of Andhra Pradesh are known for their unique and colorful clothes and outfits. Their dresses are usually a combination of various textile and handloom craftsmanship. A rare thing about the costumes of these tribes is that the men wear traditional costumes like women of the group. Lambadi women wear Ghagra Choli of bright colors with silver jewelry.

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