Every festival has different folk characters that conjure up a unique ambience. The Dasara festival, just like Sankranthi and Ugadi, has its own colourful characters that bring joy and festive atmosphere to the streets.
Only few of the unsolicited guests who knock at the door at dawn are welcomed by the community in festival season. One among them is ‘Pittala Dora,’ a story teller. His visit enthrals the entire family.
A Pittala Dora’s outfit and dialogues are rib-ticklers. Age is no bar for his antics, as people burst into peels of laughter at his stories which mostly border on wild fantasies. He makes one believe that his narrations are his true experiences and that he is speaking out from pages of his life. Some of them even pep up their gossip with their romantic skills.
The origin of their hereditary skills is not known, even to many of the ‘Pittala Doralu’ themselves. But their appearance gives an impression that they imitate the British in their attire. Clad in khakhis with a cap on their head, they carry a toy or defunct rifle. In local parlance a ‘Pittala Dora’ is one who babbles.
Most of them eke out a living as agricultural workers and visit cities to make a few bucks during Dasara festival. Many of them from places like Veeravasaram, Pennada Agraharam and I. Bhimavaram (West Godavari) swarm the city every Dasara.
“I don’t know how a Pittala Dora’s role crept into our lives. Agriculture is our main occupation,” says 55-year old Boyina Nageswara Rao, a native of Pennada Agraharam. “People call us Pittala Dora due to our story telling skills. But we belong to the Golla Bhagavatulu community,” he adds.
“Now-a-days people look down upon the fraternity as alms-seekers. We toil hard in agricultural fields. Our endeavour is to pass on our skills to next generations for posterity,” says 35-year old Boddu Venkata Ramana, adding that in the past, their skills were appreciated and respected by all until cinema came to dominate the entertainment scenario. “But people still love to see a Pittala Dora during festivals,” he affirms.
As days passed by, the Pittala Dora community slipped into oblivion. The current generation has no clue about their colourful personality that enlivens the ambience of Dasara festival. It is sad to see these entertaining artistes being dubbed by some as lazybones.