originated among Kurmas (Yadavas) who devoted themselves to
the singing of ballads in praise of Lord Siva (also called
Mallikarjuna). These tradition-loving and ritual-performing
community moves from place to place, narrating the stories
of their caste gods: Mallanna, Beerappa, and Yellamma the
goddess. Oggus are the traditional priests of the Yadavas
and perform the marriage of Mallanna with Bhramaramba.
'Oggu Katha' got its name because of the instrument,
the 'Oggu', used at the beginning of each story and also at
the marriage festivals of Mallanna(Lord Shiva). The folk name
given to Shiva's 'damaruka', it is also known as 'jaggu'.
The story narrated with the of Oggu is known as Oggu Katha.
The Oggu performers narrate the stories of Mallanna
and Beerappa and Shakti ballads, of Yellamma. These ballads
are in 'manjari dwipada', containing lyrical prose, recited
with great oratorical and rhetorical nuances.
The team consists of four to six members. The chief
narrator, an assisting narrator, at least two instrumentalists
- one playing on a big drum called 'rana bheri' and the other
on brass talas of a big size. Another member plays on a kanjira
and the sixth one sings along with the narrator and also plays
a napheera, a wind instrument, used at times of martial valor.
The narrator and his singing assistant - i.e., two narrators-help
in dramatizing the narration as very often, they transform
themselves into two characters. The dramatization of the narrative
is what gives the Oggu Katha its predominant place in the
ballad tradition of Andhra Pradesh, especially in Telangana,
where Oggu Katha prevalent.
Dress The chief narrator wears a dhoti tied upto the
knees, a colored shirt, a colored head cloth, a colored waistcloth,
and ankle bells. The other narrator also will have the same
dress. More than the costume, the ornaments they have to wear
are traditionally considered more important. The main narrator
will have a chain made of seven shells called 'gavvala darshanam'.
There is a legend regarding this chain of shells. It was said
that seven brothers of Bhramaramba (Mallanna's consort) fought
with him at the time of her wedding. Mallanna defeated them
and cursed them to be dogs. When Bhramaramba entreated the
Lord to save them from the curse, he graced them by asking
them to be Oggus and narrate his stories. The seven shells
symbolize the seven brothers and are given a prominent place
while narrating the story.
In addition, they will wear five silver rings and five silver
chains (jogirly), a wrist band (ponchi), thick silver rings
(kadiyam) around the neck, to the right wrist and to the upper
arm, a three - layered garland made of pagadam (sapphire)
and round silver nooses (tavalam), ande and matte to the fingers
of the foot and a garland with Mallana's portrait on it (ambarala
golusu). During the course of action, he also wears a stick,
which serves also as a sword or the chains of a horse.
Oggus Katha allows tremendous scope for dramatization. In
the hands of an able narrator, it becomes a very inspiring
one, because of the innumerable improvisations introduced,
along with the traditional way of rendering the story.