For festival occasions, the women of
Andhra Pradesh smooth out the earth of the village square, and
create vivid, spontaneous designs using colored chalk.
This art form exists only in the village
-- by its very nature, it only lasts a few days until the next
rain or wind comes along to wash it away.
So you have to go to Parvatapur to see
it -- or you can get a good impression of these beautiful designs
by watching the short digital video on this Web page.
The chalk paintings are called "Muggulu"
in Telugu, the common language of Andhra Pradesh.There are many
festivals associated with chalk paintings. During harvest period,
which generally falls in January, there is a big festival in
Andhra Pradesh called Sankranti. Unmarried girls make chalk paintings
in front of their houses; every home will have a unique image.
Girls spend a lot of time learning how
to create these designs. They are based on the principle of connecting
dots. The chalk paintings in Parvatapur have a special character,
different from those seen anywhere else.
To learn more about Muggulu and the
Sankranti festival, click here: http://www.andhratoday.com/festival/sank.htm
Cow dung is used to make the earth smooth,
so that the paintings appear clearly. Ornamental decoration is
done with flowers, kumkum, and haldi. Cow dung is first shaped
in balls and placed on the designs; each ot the balls has a flower
on top, decorated with three colors: red (kumkum) yellow (haldi)
and white (rice powder).
Girls dance around the paintings and
sing songs, which typically wish for a nice husband. They swing
on special swings made for the occasion, hanging from big trees,
and toward evening the dung balls are hit on trees. They dry
in the course of time and are stored as fuel for home cooking
fires. During late February, there is another festival in which
cow's milk, new rice and jaggery is cooked over slow fires and
offered to the sun.
This aspect of Telugu culture teaches
humility, and the cycle of life itself, to young women. Making
the chalk paintings takes a girl through the process of preparing
fuel for warmth and sustenance, ornamenting it and celebrating
its beauty, preparing the fuel for use and then cooking with
it to sustain the family.
The accompanying music was recorded
live for Greenstar in Parvatapur by students from a university
in Hyderabad, direct to digital disk, using solar power.
Click here  for more information on Andhra Pradesh.
If you need help with downloading or
viewing this video, you may need to install or update QuickTime
on your system. Click the Quicktime logo below for help.
photographs by Maharshi
Pingali, for Greenstar India
© copyright 2001, the Mandel of Parvatapur, Andhra Pradesh