All About The Unique Paruveta Festival In Andhra Pradesh

INTACH hopes to preserve and promote the rich cultural heritage of the festival by getting it recognised as an intangible cultural asset by UNESCO
The unique festival takes place at Ahobila
The unique festival takes place at Ahobila@sri_ahobila_vaibhavam/Instagram

With over 3,000 temples across the state, Andhra Pradesh is one of the most sought after religious destinations in the country. Among these, the Sri Narasimha Swamy temple in Ahobilam stands out as it hosts the yearly 'Paruveta' festival, also referred to as the 'mock hunting festival'. According to a recent report, the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) is working to secure UNESCO certification for the festival. By getting the festival recognised as an intangible cultural asset by UNESCO, INTACH hopes to preserve and promote the rich cultural heritage of the festival. This recognition will not only add value to the festival but also attract more visitors from around the world, leading to increased cultural exchange and understanding.

The Meaning Of Intangible Heritage

UNESCO states that intangible cultural heritage includes traditions or living expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants, such as oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, arts, festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe or the knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts.

The list of UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage in India consists of the festivals of Durga Puja, Kumbh Mela, and Novruz, crafts such as the traditional brass and copper craft of utensil making among the Thatheras of Jandiala Guru, the Buddhist chanting of Ladakh, dance forms such as Chhau and Kalbelia, and more.

A Community Festival

The Paruveta festival, which generally falls between January-February, is a unique event that is also a celebration of communal harmony. During the festival, the deity from the temple's inner sanctuary travels to the 32 Chenchu tribal communities that surround Ahobilam over a span of 40 days.

Legend has it that the festival originates from the story of Lord Vishnu's avatar as Narasimha, the man-lion, in Ahobilam. As the tale goes, Narasimha wedded Maha Lakshmi, who reincarnated as Chenchulakshmi, a tribal girl. The Kurnool District Gazetteers from 1881 detail the Chenchu tribes' beliefs, such as their regard for Ahobila Narasimha as their brother-in-law and their tradition of inviting Him home on Makar Sankranti.

Ahobilam's 'Narasimha Deeksha' celebration lasts for a mandala of forty days, making it unique compared to the Paruveta rituals commonly conducted during Vijayadasami or Sankranti in other temples.

Paruveta Utsavam observed in Tirumala
Paruveta Utsavam observed in Tirumala@gotirupati/Instagram

Ahobilam's Paruveta Utsavam is celebrated by every segment of society. For example, the Vadla Kammara community constructs the palanquin, the Chenchus gather honey, linen, and sacred mango leaves from forests, Mala devotees recite Vachanas, and so on. During this event, business worth lakhs of rupees is conducted. The Veedhinatakams, Harikatha, and Burra katha rituals during the festival portray the account of Chenchu Lakshmi's marriage to Ahobila Narasimha. The festivity begins on the Makar Sankranti. The principal deities of Ahobilam, Shri Prahladavarada Swamy and Jwala Narasimha Swamy, are led in procession to the villages.

About Ahobilam

Ahobilam is a holy town located in the Allagadda mandal of Andhra Pradesh's Kurnool District. Situated in the Nallamala Forest, it is surrounded by the beautiful Eastern Ghats hills. This town is renowned as one of the 108 Divya Desams, and is dedicated to the worship of Narasimha, Vishnu's lion-headed avatar. All nine Hindu temples and shrines in the area are dedicated to Lord Narasimha, making it known as Nava Narasimha Kshetra. Each of the nine forms of Lord Narasimha has its own temple, making this a significant pilgrimage site for Hindus.

Getting There

The nearest airport is in Bengaluru, around 172km from Ahobilam. The nearest railway station is Kondapuram railway station, about 13 km away.

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