Boom Boom-the loud sound of the drum beats is no more booming. Today life has become difficult to all the ‘Boom Boom Mattukarans’. They are known as ‘Gangireddu ‘in Telugu and ‘Gangiyeddu’ in Kannada.
Who are these ‘Boom Boom mattukarans or Gangireddu or Gangiyeddu’?
‘Boom Boom mattukarans’ or ‘Gangireddu’ or ‘Gangiyeddu’ are semi –nomads and lead a usually lead a nomadic life. They earn a living by bringing their decorated bull trained to shake head whenever a question is posed to it, to houses, shops, establishments. If it shakes its head up and down it denotes ‘yes’ and if it is sideways the answer is presumed to be ‘No’. It is amusing to see the ‘Gangireddu', the bull decorated with colourful clothes and bells. It also bites the hand of its master and then places its legs on his chest without hurting him during the story narration when the master deliberately changes the story sequences. My memory of gangireddu (bull) is quite interesting one. The bull could dance to the music played, nod its head in approval, deny in refusal, kneel down and prostrate, bow down and even stretch its tongue to show it could speak and sing.
They visit villages usually during Sankranti-Pongal festival time wishing the villagers good health and wealth. They also acted as good communicators and informers of other states and regions. In some cases they have acted as match-makers too. Sounds strange but true!!! As one of the friends could seek suitable groom for her younger sisters while enquiring about the places this ‘boom boom mattakarn’ visits every year. As ‘boom boom mattukarans’ highlights special the features of places, traditional practices followed by people and so on. It is during the sankranti festival time she visited one of the village to know the where about of the groom, that she sighted the ‘boom boom mattukarans’ who also visit them after sankranti. So it was something like ‘family doctor’, ‘family lawyer’, ‘family boom boom mattukaran’. Today, closed doors are all that greeting them. A number of ‘boom boom mattukarans’ move from one village to another village in and around a district for a livelihood.
When we trace the origin they all are basically from Andhra Pradesh, Telugu as their mother tongue belonging to sub clan of Yadhava kula. Long ago many have migrated to Tamil Nadu and are known as ‘boom boom mattukarans’. Similar is not the case with Karnataka, it is the practice even today that the Gangireddulus from Andhra and Telangana region go to Karnataka. Hence they are known as ‘Gangiyeddu’ in Kannada. They all move in group and cover the regions. They narrate the story of ‘Sita Rama Kalyananam’ and entertain the villagers.
We do see them coming to some part of the cities too. They are not much pleased visiting city due to heavy traffic. Selected families in the town still have sentiments attached to the bull, considered a vehicle of Lord Shiva.
Sorrowful state of ‘Boom Boom mattukarans’ with changing times—‘People close doors when they hear our voices and sound of beating drums. Earlier, people gave us not only money but also rice’,’ people are not interested to listen to them and their narration’, ‘Many living condition are poor’, ‘in due course bulls have died due to ill-health’, ‘they are denied of Schedule Tribes certificate’ ‘ next generations are not prepared to continue this profession of ‘Boom Boom Mattukaran’ ‘ they would like to take up some other profession or occupation that is fetching good’, ‘ Again, the temple authorities have stopped the practice of donating bulls to these nomads’.
Today they are treated equivalent to road side beggars. They exercised a right over fistful of the share of grains in exchange to the narrative. We have forgotten the significant role and presence of Boob boom Mattukarans and chase them away with mere sight. Again, more numbers of storied buildings with security man and the watchman are also in a way blocking their entry and chased away with abusive words. Further, to add to their agony an animal protection organisation and clubs harass and torture them , they fail to realize that these boom boom Mattukarans are merely not making their living but are protecting, domesticating animals and our rich folklore culture which even as animal protection organisation and clubs fail to do. Lost in the modern world, we humans have forgotten our own culture and folklore. In the days to come, these boom boom Mattukarans will fade away and will never be heard again.