88-yr-old turned home into community library in Kerala, honoured with Padma Shri reward

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Transforming Rural Telangana Through Books and Art: Stories of Padma Shri Awardees

The vigour to contribute to society has no age bar, as evident from the inspirational story of 86-year-old Vittlacharya Kurella, whose dedication to collecting books and making them accessible for the common people won him recognition by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and fetched him the esteemed Padma Shri award from the Central government. “This award is an acknowledgment and encouragement for the people of rural Telangana to revive their reading habits,” affirmed Kurella during a media interaction at his residence in Yellanki village.

Creating a Literary Trove

Kurella transformed his own home into a library that contains about 200,000 books, attracting book enthusiasts, students, and researchers from across the state. For more space, he constructed another floor in his house. Kurella’s passion for reading blossomed during his school days when he used to borrow books from friends and teachers due to his lack of resources to purchase them. It was during this time that he desired to establish a library of rare books – a dream which he successfully brought to reality after multiple years of hard work.

Starting his career as a Telugu teacher and ending it as a degree college principal, Kurella used his years of service to amass an admirable collection of books. His library started expanding as he began to request his friends, well-wishers, poets and writers to contribute books. Today, this uncommon library garners the attention of many research scholars from across various universities in Telangana.

Highlighting the importance of his library, he proclaimed, “Eight research scholars have earned their PhDs using information gathered from my library. A few are even researching my work.”

Artist of Chindu Yakshaganam

The Padma Shri award was also bestowed upon another deserving person from Telangana – Gaddam Sammaiah, who mastered the traditional folk art of “Chindu Yakshaganam”. Despite being an agricultural labourer, the 67-year-old native of Devaruppula village in Jangaon district has performed an incredible 19,000 shows over the past five decades.

Bound by his love for Chindu Yakshaganam, Sammaiah has continuously molded the art form to promote social awareness. Subjects like girl child education, environmental protection and gender discrimination form the core themes of his shows.

Spreading Spiritual Wisdom with Burra Veena

Dasari Kondappa, another Padma Shri awardee from Telangana, enriches society by spreading spiritual wisdom through his distinct art form—Burra Veena. The 63-year-old artist from Damarigadda village of Narayanpet district is recognized as the only living exponent of Burra Veena—a traditional stringed instrument made from bamboo, gourd shell, and metal strings. Currently, Kondappa is passing on his art form to students in his locality.

Apart from enthralling people with his performances, he also composes ‘Tatvalu’—songs that spread socio-religious moral values and philosophical wisdom in both Telugu and Kannada languages. His popularity skyrocketed after his song in the Telugu film “Balagam” became a hit.

These compelling stories are a testament to the extraordinary talent and unwavering dedication of common people who are doing their part to contribute to society. Their endeavours are not just personal achievements but a source of inspiration for individuals across the country. Their efforts are a significant part of the narrative framework upon which the story of modern India is being written.

John Kerry

John Kerry, a distinguished author in the realm of science, explores the intricate intersections of environmental policy and scientific advancements. With an insightful pen, he navigates complex issues, offering readers a profound understanding of the crucial role science plays in shaping sustainable futures. Dive into Kerry's work on ReaderWall to embark on a journey through the nexus of science and policy.