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Burrakatha – Essay On Folk Art Of Telangana And Andhra Pradesh

Burrakatha is the semi-folk performing art Of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh in India. It is also known as tandanapata, tambura katha and dakkilakatha. The root of Burrakatha lies in yakshagana as well as jaganakatha of whose prevalence some evidence is available, even before the 14th century CE.

In the place of sutradhara and vidushaka of the yakshagana, there is one kathaka and two or three vantulus in Burrakatha. The kathaka wears gejjas (tinkling bells) on his legs, holds a pair of talas in hand and tambura hangs around his shoulder. The vantulus hold two dakkis (percussion instruments) in their hands.

The performance of Burrakatha varies from region to region. In coastal Andhra, dance is given more prominence, whereas in Telangana, music plays an important role. The performers of Burrakatha in the coastal area step front and back, swinging and curling while singing a song in tune with the tinkling sound of gejjas tied to their legs. The songs are sung in a standing position in Telangana.

Burrakatha is a mixture of classical and folk arts. Though music is the life of this art, literature is also given due importance. Dance and drama, folk-music as well as classical music, classical literature as well as folk styles, ancient and modern literature, lyrics, colloquial language as well as standard language, are liberally used in the performance.

The themes for the performance are taken from the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, puranas and history. The stories are often given a patriotic flavor.

Sri Krishnarayabharam, Prahlada Vijayam, Satya Harishchandra, Sri Venkateswara Vaibhavam are popular themes taken from Hindu scriptures. Folk tales such as Balanagamma, Kamboja Raju Katha, and historical stories like Attur Sitaramaraju, Jhansi Laxmi Bai, Bobbili Yuddham are some of the themes very popular in the performance.

Whatever the story or theme of the performance – religious, social, political or historical – the message given by Burrakatha widely appeals to the masses.