Telangana: Padma Shri awardee Sakini Ramachandraiah passes away

Hyderabad, June 23 (UNI) Padma Shri awardee and traditional Adivasi dholi artist Sakini Ramachandraiah passed away at his residence at Manuguru Mandal of Bhadradri Kothagudem district in Telangana on Sunday due to age-related ailments.

Born in Kunavaram of Manugur Mandal, to the Koya tribe couple Musalayya-Gangamma, the 61- year-old Ramachandraih is a vocal folk singer and Dhol player from the Bhadradri town in Telangana .

He is known for his expertise in “Kanchumelam-Kanchuthalam” an art form particularly identified with the Koya tribal community in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

This art form is almost on the verge of extinction and Ramachandraih is the only surviving practitioner of the art who can narrate the history of the sacred festival “Sammakka Sarakka Jathara” in both Telugu and Koya languages in its full totality.

In 2022, Government of India conferred the Padma Shri Award, the third highest award in the Padma series of awards, on Ramachandraiah for his distinguished service in the field of art.

The award is in recognition of his service as a “ Koya tribal singer from Bhadradri — amongst the last preserving the ancient practice of reciting the oral histories of the Koya tribe”.

He has had no formal education and he remains illiterate even now. However, from the age of twelve, he had shown a passion for the art of playing Dhol which, probably, he had inherited from his grandparents.

The Koya tribal artists have a great tradition of orally handing over their repertoire of songs to newer generations and Ramachandraih has memorised a large collection of these songs

The themes of these songs include stories of tribal warriors such as Sammakka-Saralamma, Girikamaraju, Pagididda Raju, Ramaraju, Gadiraju, Bapanamma, Musalamma, Nagulamma, Sadalamma . They also include stories of the birth of tribes and family histories.

Ramachandraiah’s talent came to wider attention for the first time in 2014 when he narrated the history of Sammakka-Saralakka, two tribal women (mother and daughter) who fought against Kakatiya rulers in the 13th century. “It became an instant hit. He has also popularized other ballads such as Boponamma Katha, Godi Kama Roaju Katbac.” said Jayadheer Tirumala Rao, a retired professor of Telugu University, who has recorded and documented Ramachandraiah’s oral narratives.

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