Efforts on to get UNESCO tag for ‘Paruveta Utsavam’ of Ahobilam

The annual mock hunting festival conducted at the Sri Narasimha Swamy temple stands as a symbol of communal harmony where the deity from the sanctum sanctorum of the temple is taken to the 32 Chenchu tribal hamlets around Ahobilam for 40 days

Updated - February 18, 2024 06:46 pm IST

Published - February 18, 2024 06:45 pm IST - NANDYAL

The Chenchu tribals give a ceremonial reception to the deity of Lord Narasimha Swamy arriving from the Ahobilam temple to their hamlet, as part of the ‘Paruveta Utsavam’ in Nandyal district.

The Chenchu tribals give a ceremonial reception to the deity of Lord Narasimha Swamy arriving from the Ahobilam temple to their hamlet, as part of the ‘Paruveta Utsavam’ in Nandyal district. | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

The Indian National Trust is making efforts for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) to get the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to declare the annual ‘Paruveta’ (mock hunting festival), celebrated at the Sri Narasimha Swamy temple in Ahobilam as an ‘intangible cultural heritage’.

The intangible cultural heritages are those traditions, festivals, and skills inherited from ancestors and passed on through generations. This festival stands as a symbol of communal harmony where the deity from the temple’s sanctum sanctorum is taken to the 32 Chenchu tribal hamlets around Ahobilam for 40 days.

The matter of UNESCO’s recognition of the centuries-old festival is currently being reviewed by Sangeet Natak Academy, the nodal agency.

The lore says

According to folklore, Lord Vishnu, upon his incarnation as a man-lion (Narasimha) in Ahobilam, married Maha Lakshmi, born as a tribal girl Chenchulakshmi. The Kurnool District Gazetteers, published by Government Press in 1881, records several beliefs of the Chenchu tribes, including their reverence to Ahobila Narasimha as their brother-in-law and inviting Him home for Makara Sankranti.

‘Narasimha Deeksha;

While Paruveta is commonly observed in many temples during Vijayadasami or Sankranti, it is only here that it is conducted for a ‘mandala’ (forty days). Chenchus take ‘Narasimha Deeksha’ by wearing yellow robes and ‘Tulasi Mala’ and observe celibacy during this period.

“The temple staff stay in these hamlets for the entire period, indicating the presence of a casteless society in the past, with no hint of untouchability”M.V. Sivakumar ReddyPresident of INTACH, Nandyal chapter

“The temple staff stay in these hamlets for the entire period, indicating the presence of a casteless society in the past, with no hint of untouchability,” says M.V. Sivakumar Reddy, President of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) Nandyal chapter. Even the Pancharatra Agama (doctrine of temple worship) mentions Paruveta as ‘Mrugayotsava’ and specifies certain parameters for conducting this event.

“The spiritual sojourn starts with the tribals aiming their bow and shooting two arrows at the palanquin, not only as a mark of reverence but also to show that the deity is under their protective cover,” observes INTACH Additional Co-Convener K.B. Sethuraman, who is also the Communication Officer of Ahobilam temple.

Sankranti festival is celebrated on the day the deity reaches their hamlet, he adds.

Tribal link

By ‘Guru Parampara’, the temple is governed by the 600-year-old Ahobila Mutt, which encouraged this tribal festival to spread Srivaishnavism among the folk tribes. The tribal link to Lord Vishnu is confirmed in Vasanthika Parinayam, a Sanskrit drama written by the Mutt’s 7th Jeeyar (pontiff), several centuries ago.

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