KOCHI: The Andhra Cultural Association Hall in Panampilly Nagar — a second home to many Telugus who have settled in Kochi, wears a bedecked look on festive occasions such as Sankranti, Ugadi, Dussera, Diwali and marriage receptions.
The hall provides the right rendezvous for over 200 families hailing from Andhra Pradesh. The association that began with a grouping of six people who used to meet on festive occasions, will celebrate its golden jubilee in August. Altogether, Kochi has over 400 Telugu families, says S. Sanjay, association secretary and a manager with BPCL-Kochi Refineries Limited.
“And we frequently run into others from our State at markets and other places.”
The first part of the two-day jubilee celebrations will be held at the hall on August 8 and a grander finale the next day at the Fine Arts Hall. Community members are happy that the Greater Cochin Development Authority gave eight cents of land for the hall. The Corporation of Cochin too pooled in with help.
“Our aim was to provide a meeting place where people could learn more of Telugu culture and art forms.
Out here, we impart training in Kuchipudi and other dance forms, apart from music.
The hall is also let out for use by Sabarimala pilgrims from Andhra Pradesh,” Mr Sanjay said. He spoke proudly of the numerous IPS and IAS officials from Andhra Pradesh who serve in the Kerala cadre.
A good share of Telugus settled in Kochi are (or were) employed in Central Government service, defence and research establishments.
Some are into business and the stock market. One of them spoke of how Kochi stands out from most other Indian cities because of her unique natural beauty.
“It is also a very peaceful city and the pace of life is not as fast as in some other places. The cost of life can be rated as average and is more than in most places in Andhra Pradesh. As for the people, Malayalis in Hyderabad are better than those here.”
Many early settlers found some difficulty in getting white rice from Kochi shops. This is not the case now and Andhra cuisine is served in many hotels, a prominent one being Tandoor, located off Jos Junction. Dhum biriyani is popular among many Kochiites too. The association arranged cooks from Hyderabad to prepare Andhra dishes at the ethnic food festival held here a few months ago. It now plans to open a Telugu restaurant in tie-up with any local group at a place like Vytilla. A plan to screen Telugu movies was abandoned because many people were hooked to television sets. On an average, Kochi’s Telugu-speaking crowd meets once every month. They also go on picnics. The association plans to release a directory of Telugus living in Kochi, to enable better interaction.
Mr Sanjay can be contacted at 98951 28567 or 2324478.