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Telugu Culture


Culture is the widening of the mind and of the spirit.
--Jawaharlal Nehru

Telugu Culture

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Here you can find the information about Telugu culture, Andhra Pradesh, Hyderabad, Andhra foods, Telugu literature, Telugu films, Telugu music, Telugu television, Studies in Andhra, Telugu communities and Telugu resources.


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Telugu Culture

koochipudiAndhra Pradesh has always been known for its rich culture. The wonderful Andhra (Telugu) state is famous for a wide range of performing arts, including dance, drama and music, ingenious arts and crafts, and glorious religions.

The various dance forms that existed through the state's history are Chenchu Bhagotham, Kuchipudi, Bhamakalapam, Burrakatha, Veeranatyam, Butta bommalu, Dappu, Tappeta Gullu, Lambadi, Bonalu, Dhimsa, Kolattam and chindu. Kuchipudi and Andhra Natyam are the famous classical dances in Andhrapradesh and they 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 form.

Though Carnatic music has a profound cultural influence on all of the South Indian States and their respective languages, most of the songs (Kirtanas) are in the Telugu language. Annamayya (1408- 1503) was a Telugu song-writer and Carnatic composer. He is the earliest known musician in South India to compose sankeertanas. He composed numerous songs in praise of Lord Venkateswara, the deity of the Seven Hills in Tirumala

The cuisine of Andhra Pradesh is reputedly one of the spiciest of all Indian cuisine. There are many variations to the Andhra cuisine depending on geographical regions, caste, traditions etc. Pickles and chutneys, called pachchadi 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 (eggplant), and roselle (Gongura). Gongura 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.


Some Telugu Culture Related

Akshrabhyasam (Aksrabhyasam, Akshrabyasam, Vidyarambham) The initiation of a child into the formal learning process is usually done between the 2nd and the 4th year of the child. The child participates in the Saraswati pooja as the priest recites the mantras. The child is then made to write sacred letter Om .

Anna-prasanam Anna-prasanam is a traditional ceremony of initiating solid food to a child. Food is first offered to God. Then the paternal grandmother mixes boiled rice and milk in a silver bowl and feeds the child. Then a book, gold chain, pen and a knife are placed on a small wooden table. The child is then left free 15 yards (14 m) away from the table. As the child moves towards the table, he or she is believed to become associated with whichever of the four articles that he or she touches.

Atla tadde is a traditional festival celebrated by married Hindu women of Andhra region in Andhra Pradesh, India, for the health and long life of their husbands. It occurs on the 3rd night after the full moon in Aswiyuja month of Telugu calendar, and falls in either September or October in the Gregorian calendar. It is the Telugu equivalent of Karva Chauth, which is celebrated by north Indian women the following day.

Avadhanam is a literary performance popular from the very ancient days in Sanskrit and more exclusively in Telugu language. It requires immense memory power and tests a person's capability of performing multiple tasks simultaneously. All the tasks are memory intensive and demand an in depth knowledge of literature, and prosody. The tasks vary from making up a poem spontaneously to keeping a count of a bell ringing at random. No external memory aids are allowed while performing these tasks except the person's own brain.

Barasala (Naam Karanam) is a traditional ceremony that is performed on the eleventh day after a baby birth, the child is given a name. It is during this ceremony that for the first time relatives and close friends see the child. It is a small ceremony where invitees sing songs and celebrate the arrival of the child. The name is written on rice spread on the floor or on a tray. The child's maternal uncle takes a golden ring and keeps it on the child's mouth. The mother and both the grandmothers give gold to the child (either a chain or a bangle).

BatukammaBatukamma is a spring festival celebrated by the Hindu women of Telangana region in Andhra Pradesh, India. It is also called as Bodemma. This festival falls in the months of September/October called as Aswiyuja and concludes two days before Dussera called as Durgashtami. Batukamma is a beautiful flower stack, arranged with seasonal flowers, in seven concentric layers, of potter’s clay like a cone. Batuku in Telugu means live/life, and Amma means mother, hence Batukamma, is celebrated for the glory of Gauri goddess (meaning fair or white) - the patron Goddess of womanhood. Women celebrate the festival dressed-up in traditional silk sarees, wear jewellery and girls wear a two-piece saree called as Langa oni.

Bhynlollu is a Telugu tribe/caste mainly lives in Telangana region. They are famous for playing a special type of drum makes very funny Budunku Budunku sound. They also lead some local festivals like Mahankali, Yellamma and Maisamma festivals.

Bogi Mantalu The Bonfire ritual observed on the eve of Bhogi festival. The significance of the bonfire, in which is burnt the agricultural wastes and firewood is to keep warm during the last lap of winter. Girls dance around the bonfire, singing songs in praise of the gods, the spring and the harvest.

              KoluvuBommala Koluvu is the display of various dolls and toys on Sankranthi festival day. Bommala means toys’ and Koluvu means durbar. Like the kings' durbar, a variety of dolls are arranged beautifully in a selected place of the house and displayed to all the guests who come to see it.

Bommarillu (Toys House) is a small mud house build by kids usually on Sankranthi festival day and decorate it with colors and toys. (There is a Telugu movie with this title).

BonaluBonalu is a festival for the Goddess of power, Mahakali or Kali, celebrated in Hyderabad, Secunderabad and parts of Telangana and Rayalaseema in India. It is more like carnival then a traditional hindu festival. The festival environment is quite palpable in the locality celebrating the festival, with loud-speakers playing Mother Goddess songs in folk style, and streets are decorated with neem leaves. Bonam means a meal in Telugu, is an offering to the Goddess. Women bring cooked rice in a brass or earthen pot, adorned with small neem branches and turmeric, vermilion (kunkum) or Kadi (white chalk) and a lamp on the top. Women place the pots on their heads and take it to Goddess temple, led by drummers and dancing men.

BurrakathaBurrakatha is a story-telling technique used in villages of Andhra Pradesh. The troupe consists of one main performer and two co-performers. It is a narrative entertainment consists of prayers, solo drama, dance, songs, poems and jokes. The topic will be either a hindu mythological story or a contemporary social problem.

Chandamama is a popular Telugu monthly magazine for children known for its illustrations. The stories embedded in the never-ending story of King Vikramaditya and Betala (Vampire), an adoptation of an ancient Sanskrit work Betala Panchvimshati, brought wide repute to this magazine.

Cradle Ceremony (21st Day, Uyyalalo Veyadam) is a Telugu traditional ceremony celebrated on the 21st day of childbirth. Usually a new silk cloth is put in the cradle and it is decorated with flowers. At the auspicious time, the mother or the grandmother places the child in the cradle. All the guests bless the child and give gifts to the child. The ceremony usually end with lavish dinner party.

Gadapa (Kadapa) is a horizontal wooden piece at the bottom of the main door. Telugu people give special importance to it and decorate it with turmeric and with color paintings.

Gajulu (Gaju, Chudi, Bangles, Kankanalu) are circular in shaped traditional ornaments worn by Telugu and South Indian women They are made of numerous precious as well as non-precious materials such as gold, silver, platinum, glass, wood, rubber, plastic, etc. They are usually worn in pairs by women, one or more on each arm. Most Indian women prefer wearing either gold or glass bangles or combination of both.

GanagiredduGangireddu (Dudu Basavanna) The ceremonial bull decorated for door-to-door exhibition during the harvest festival Sankranti. Gangireddu is decorated with beautiful clothes and ringing bells. Haridasulu are the people of a cast who are dedicated to receive charities from other people. Haridasu makes gangireddu (bull) to dance. Haridasu sings songs and gangireddu dances according to his master’s song.

Gandham (Ghandham, Sandal) has special importance in Telugu culture. Gandham is usually prepared by rubbing the sandal-wood on a stone-table (saana) with water. Gandham is offered to Gods in poojas (prayers) . Women especially in Telangana region applies Gandham under their chins and hands in parties and functions.

Gilli Danda(Guli Danada, Chirra Gone, Burra Gone, Gutom Billa, Pillangodu) is an amateur sport, popular in Telangana region of Andhrapradesh. The game is played with a gilli or guli and danda, which are both wooden sticks. The danda is longer and handmade by the player, who can swing it easily. The gilli is smaller and is tapered on both sides so that the ends are conical. The gilli is analogous to a cricket ball and the danda is analogous to a cricket bat.

GobbemmaluGobbemmalu are cow dung balls which are kept on Muggu (Rangoli), which is designed to invite prosperity and bliss into the house. Gobbemmalu are decorated with pasupu (turmeric powder), Kumkuma (red vermion powder) and with several grain types. They are also decorated with flowers (garlands).

Gorintaku (Mehndi, Henna) is the application of Henna as a temporary form of skin decoration. Henna is typically applied during special occasions like weddings and festivals. It is usually drawn on the palms and feet, where the color will be darkest because the skin contains higher levels of keratin which binds temporarily to lawsone, the colorant of henna. Henna was originally used as a form of decoration mainly for brides.

HarikathaHarikatha is a composite art form comprising of story telling, poetry, music, drama, dance, and philosophy. Harikatha involves the narration of a story, intermingled with various songs relating to the story. Usually the narration involves numerous sub-plots and anecdotes, which are used to emphasise various aspects of the main story. The main story teller is usually assisted by one or more co-singers, who elaborate the songs and a Mridangam accompanist. The storyteller uses a pair of cymbals to keep beat.

Holi (Vasanthostsavam, Kamuni Pournami) is also called the "festival of colors". Holi is celebrated at the end of the winter season on the last full moon day of the lunar month Phalguna (February/March). Holi is the most vibrant Indian festival, when distinctions of caste, class, age or gender are set to one side. People have fun by smearing each other with paint and throwing coloured water at each other, all done in a spirit of celebration.

Jammi is a ritual performed on Dashara (Dasara) festival. Jammi is a sacred tree; people believe that Pandavas hide their weapons on this tree. On Dasara day, all the village people gather at the Jammi tree, perform pooja to the tree and take the leaves from the tree and greet their friends and families with Jammi leaves (In hyderabad the leaves are called bangaram and they use different tree leaves).

Janapada Geetalu (Janapada Geyalu, Janapadalu, Janapadam) are folk songs of Telugu people. One of the famous forms of music unlike classical music, Janapada geyalu are very popular form of music for masses. They are not based on strict music notation like classical music.

Jeelakarra-BellamJeelakarra-Bellam (Cumin and jaggery) is a ritual especially featuring in the Telugu marriage, wherein a paste of cumin seeds and jaggery is made. The bride and the groom apply this paste on each other's hands. The idea behind applying the cumin seeds and jaggery paste is that the two different objects coming together and united as one inseparably and forever.

Kabaddi (Kabbadi or Kabadi) is a state sport of Andrapradesh. Two teams occupy opposite halves of a field and take turns sending a "raider" into the other half, in order to win points by tagging or wrestling members of the opposing team; the raider then tries to return to his own half, holding his breath during the whole raid.

Kaalla Pasupu (Feet Turmeric) is a Telugu women tradition (Mostly in Telangana region) of decorating their feet with turmeric on special days like festivals and marriages.

Katipapala is a Telugu tribe/caste mainly lives in Telangana region. They are famous for wearing big gold coloured crown and wired coloured dresses. Carries a big bell and rings the bell to indicate their presence in front of your house.

Kite Flying (Gali patalu, Pathang) is very popular tradition in Hyderabad and Telangana region. Kite flying in Hyderabad starts a month before the official kite flying festival (Sankranthi). The thread used to fly kites in Hyderabad is known as 'Manjaa'. Highly maneuverable single-string paper and bamboo kites are flown from the rooftops while using line friction in an attempt to cut each other's kite lines, either by letting the line loose at high speed or by pulling the line in a fast and repeated manner

Kodi-Pandalu (Rooster fights) is treated as a cultural game for the festival Sankranthi leaving only either of the roosters to live. (I personally do not like this. I believe you should never get happiness out of any animal's suffering) .

Langa OniLanga Oni (Langavoni, Langa voni)is a traditional dress worn mainly in the states of Andhra Pradesh by young girls between puberty and marriage. It is also called as two-piece saree or half saree. The influence of western culture and apparent thought of inconvenience of wearing the dress has made many girls to switch from this traditional attire to modern outfits . In recent years, however, Langa Oni is gaining popularity among girls again due to media attention and due to the work of many designers who have brought in many new designs.

MugguMuggu is also called Rangoli is one of the most popular art forms in India. It is a form of sand painting decoration that uses finely ground white and colored powders, and is commonly done outside homes in India. These colorful designs are usually drawn on the path near the entrance to a house. Muggu is created from a series of geometric shapes and is usually made from paint, chalk, colored powder, petals rice or sand.

Natakam (Andhra Natakam) is a Telugu drama. It is used to be main form of entertainment before the Telugu movies and TV channels. Natakam is generally play in two different types Padya Natakam play with special style of songs and Gadya Natakam is a drama without songs.

Oggu Katha (Voggu Katha) is a story-narrating art used in villages of Telangana region. The Oggu performers narrate the stories of Mallanna and Beerappa and Shakti ballads, of Yellamma. The team consists of four to six members. The chief narrator, an assisting narrator, at least two instrumentalists - one playing on a big drum called 'rana bheri' and the other on brass talas of a big size.

Paaraani is a red colored decoration on bride's feet. This is one of the most important makeups of the Telugu bride.

PallakiPallaki (Doli, Palki, Phalki)is a palanquin traditionally made of wood and decorated with jewels. Pallaki is used to carry bride to the marriage stage and carry the bride and groom from the marriage stage but decorated cars are replaced Pallaki nowadays.

Poola Jada is a long hair plait decorated with flowers. Telugu girls decorate thire long hair tail/plait with flowers in occations like birthdays and marriages. This one of the important traditional decorations of the Telugu brides.

Puttentrukalu Teeyadam (Kesa Khandanam, Mundan ceremony, Tonsure) is a Head-shaving ceremony of a child, this ceremony is not celebrated on a grand scale and are usually small events within the family. This ceremony is usually performed at the temple (sometimes along with ear piercing for the female child).

TalambraluTalambralu is a Telugu marriage custom in that the bride and the groom shower one another with Talambralu (rice mixed with saffron & turmeric, rich people may use pearls instead of rice). This denotes the couple’s desire for happiness, enjoyment and contentment. Initially they take turns to shower the rice as it progresses it gets more entertaining when they begin to compete with each other.

Tolu Bommalata (Shadow puppetry) has for ages been a popular mode of entertainment in rural AndraPradesh. Leather puppetry in Andhra Pradesh is famous for its life-size images(2-4 meters), highly intricate ornamentation, brilliant colours, rich style of singing, and adoption of Yakshaganam texts to present full-length theatre. It is one of the earliest Telugu folk theatre forms which contained in it the "live" potential of a stage performance and the engaging luminosity of a colour film.

Utti-Pandaga is also called Gokulashtami celebrated on Lord Krishna's birthday in Andhrapradesh. Utti (Curd pot hanged from the middle two poles) is the main ritual during Gokulashtami. With all the enthusiasm people gather near the Utti. The other end of the string to which Utti was knotted would be pulled and released to tease the hitters. Water preserved in big drums will be thrown on to the hitters who jump and attempt to hit the Utti. The person who goes successful in hitting the Utti will be entitled to draw the money tied above it.

Vadi-Biyyam is an another traditional custom practiced in mostly Telangana region. At least once in a five years the parents invite their married daughters and give them gifts with traditional turmeric rice. They usually do this along with some other important days like birthdays or marriage days.

Vanabhojanalu (Garden or Forest feast) is a kind of picnic. Friends and families gather and go on picnic to somewhere near nice and quieter place outside a city or a town usually in woods, forests or at picnic spot and spend whole day there. They prepare foods, sing songs, play games and enjoy the prepared foods.

Veedhi Natakam (Veedhi Bhagavatham, Veedhi Bhagotham, Bhagothulata, Bayalata) is the most popular folk theatre form of Andhra Pradesh. Veedhi in Telugu means street. So Veedhi Natakam is any dramatic performance presented in a street.

Yakshaganam is a musical play with an emphasis on story-telling, using for its songs desi-metres. The role player acts different roles without any change in make-up and costume.

Telugu person of the day
Devarakonda Balagangadhara Tilak<

Devarakonda Balagangadhara Tilak
(August 1, 1921 - 1966), was an influential Telugu poet, novelist and short story writer.

Telugu Resources
Telugu (Telugu Website)
Lekhini (Telugu Typing)
Koodali(Telugu Blog)
Chimata (Telugu Music)


My Favorites

My favorite music
My favorite books
My favorite links
My favorite food
My favorite place
Telugu Festivals
Sankranthi in January.
Maha Shivaratri in February/March.
Holi in March.
Ugadi or the Telugu New Year in March/April.
Sri Rama Navami celebrated in March/April, 9 days after Ugadi.
Varalakshmi Vratham in August.
Rakhi poornima in August.
Vinayaka Chavithi 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 20 days after Dasara.
Eid ul-Fitr, Bakr-Id, Muharram.
Bonalu celebrated in Telangana region.
Bathukamma celebrated for 9 days during Durgastami in Telangana region.

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