From all of us at ACP, here’s to a happy and prosperous 2014!
Hello Everybody! After long time, I am back to blogging. This month’s topic is very close to my heart. In fact, it is one of the most important aspects of being Telugu today…
I am a big fan of sarees, but above all this week’s special: Venkatagiri Sarees. This variety will feature as the first in Spotlight on Andhra Sarees–a multi-part series.
Venkatagiri is the Saree of Queens. They are considered some of the most soft, opulent, and long lasting. Eye catching and frequently imprinted with golden designs and borders, it truly is the saree of Maharanis. In fact, they are known to have been patronized by the Velugoti dynasty of Nellore, where it originates. It is the saree for both the traditional and the trendy.
Venkatagiri is a village in Nellore District, about 100km away from the town of the same name. The saree variety originates from here. They officially date back to the 1700s, but likely go back much further to the ancient period. They were initially made only for the Royal families, and that too, on special order. Originally called “Kalimili”, the locality was given its present name after the conquest of Venkatadri Naidu. Venkatadri was Sri Krishnadeva Raya‘s representative. The handloom industry here is powered by the expert skills of the Padmasali, Devanga, Pattusali, and Karnasali castes of the village.
There are three main varieties of Venkatagiri sarees: Venkatagiri 100, Venkatagiri Pattu, & Venkatagiri Silk.
Venkatagiri 100 is the lightest of the three, and so, can be worn year round.
Pattu are thread woven, arranged with a Jari border, and incorporate floral motifs.
Venkatagiri Silk are a new style that uses the silk techniques originating in the old United Bengal region of historical India.This has become very popular in recent years. Sarees are thus woven in cotton, cotton and silk mix, and pure silk. The thread count of the fabric is what gives this variety its softness.
It is a saree for every occasion, whether special events or every day. There are all sorts of types and price ranges. It gives a dignified look and covers all age groups. Venkatagiri sarees are truly timeless, and fashionable in any era–from ancient to modern. It is, without a doubt, my favorite saree and unequivocally gets the Velugu Thalli stamp of approval.
Iddhi padaharu annalu Andhrula aada bhadachu kattey cheera
“This the marquee saree of the dignified Andhra lady”
or as I liked to call them, “The Saree of Queens”
Photo: Angry Asian Man
(Click pic to see video)
Since a lot of you have been finding my posts to be heavy on the seriousness (and use of the word “On” in my titles), I thought I would mix it up with a little light-hearted stand up comedy featuring a video segment by Andhra’s own (by way of Queens) Hari Kondabolu. Already present on our list of notable diasporic Telugus, Hari featured as a writer and frequent performer on an American national comedy show called Totally Biased.
Specializing in speaking truth to power, Hari is known to mock comedians who focus on making hay of their ethnic background. Instead, he centers his humor around political issues–even anti-colonialism. In the clip above, he’s able to deftly skewer racism all while basking in a little bit of Indian-American spelling bee glory (fellow Andhrite Snigdha Nandipati won in 2012).
Kudos Mr. Kondabolu–we eagerly expect to see more of you in the future on the American and international stages–not to mention ACP blog posts…
“Arey, he’s so ambitious, yaar”, “Do you know, she’s really ambitious”, “You should be ambitious too”….
I must have missed the memo, but since when did ambition become a good thing?
Don’t get me wrong, I am all for self-improvement (both spiritual and material), and success in one’s chosen livelihood—but when did personal gain become more important than collective good and virtue? Because contrary to popular thought, ambition actually runs in direct opposition to the collective good. Ambition overturns the just order, ambition prevents rightful inheritance, ambition pits younger against older, ambition poisons the minds of parents, ambition embitters relations between spouses and between friends, ambition blinds one to duty to society—in short, ambition destroys.
The fundamental problem with Ambition is that it asks the question Why NOT me instead of Why me?
You may ask, “what is the difference”? The difference is Why Not Me puts the burden of proof on others to ask why others are more deserving than you. Why Me considers whether you are even qualified for the position to begin with.
While just aspiration in harmony with duty is good (i.e. I want to be a politician to help people), ambition is destructive (i.e.I want to be a politician to gain position and dominate people, and damn anybody, even the country, if he comes in my way…cough, KCR). Aspiration asks, “I think I could do this—but am I the most qualified, or deserving person?”.
The great irony of our time is that our culture itself answered this question thousands of years ago in the form of the Son of Dasaratha—no, I don’t mean Sri Rama, as great as he indeed was, but in fact his brother…Bharata.
The Example of Bharata.
Rama is truly the ideal man, the rightful heir, the protector of the weak, and the eponymous and undisputed hero of the Ramayana, but ultimately he was able to do his duty and still retain his throne because of the nobility and sacrifice of the second eldest brother, Bharata.
Indeed one of the greatest moments in the entire Ramayana (perhaps all of scripture) is when after reluctantly agreeing to Janaka’s decision, Bharata swears to immolate himself if Rama does not take back his throne within 14 years. . .What a gesture…Not only does this Royal Prince, whose grandfather was promised by Dasharatha to give Kaikeyi’s son the throne, whose mother gained a boon from Dasharatha to grant him the throne, and who was a qualified king in his own right, refuse this grand Kingdom, but he also threatens to give up his own life if the rightful heir is not restored to the throne within the specified period of time. Even Rama himself is moved and tells Bharata in admiration, “I should have known you would give up in an instant what takes men lifetimes to learn to reject”.
In contrast, Duryodhana covets precisely that which he has no right to by law or any other qualification. Yudhisthira was the eldest of the Kurus, was crowned by Dhritarashtra as yuvaraja, and was the greatest in dharma. Yet by hook or by crook, Duryodhana nursed his ambition for the throne of Hastinapura and craved what was not his. In the end,while Duryodhana is defeated, Bharata is triumphant (and incidentally, is granted kingship of Takshasila (modern Taxila), which he founded).
Thus, when ambition is cast aside, society in turn benefits, because it is spared fratricidal and internecine warfare. The energies that go into nursing pointless rivalries and political competitions go into societal welfare and good instead. Thus, Bharatas are not only required at the highest echelons but at the lower levels of society as well. When people do what is right, rather than what is selfish–then everyone benefits, as the four Princes of Ayodhya did. Mutual regard leads to mutual gain.
We must not take or covet what is not rightfully ours. Might (or sleight…of hand, in this case) does not make right. It is Dharma that makes right. That is the lesson of Bharata. Indeed, it is for this reason that Vashishta himself is said to have remarked that “No one understood the lessons of Dharma better than Bharata.”
People ask, with all the evil going on in the world today—“where is Vishnu”?
Perhaps, when the people are ready, a Kali Yuga Rama may indeed appear, but the real question we have to ask is: where are our Bharatas?