Hyderabad: Cultural Immulsions of Irani Chai

This article was originally written by Noah Unath Raj, and published on Nazariya.

Culture is essentially a manifestation of the way we deal with life. Beliefs, value systems and symbols exist within society to be accepted by a wide range of people.

India is known for its diverse culture throughout the world. Hyderabad, the city I hail from, has its own stance in the Indian cultural milieu.

The Deccani Tahzzeb, Pucca Nawabi culture are portions of culture that are still observed in the cities bounds. The various dynasties that have ruled over Hyderabad give rise to this intermingling of cultures. The Hindu and Muslim aspects of Indian culture are melded together in Hyderabad.

Even the food available locally is tinged with an irani touch. The Irani chai with the rich Osmania biscuits are to die for!

Hyderabad is well known for its Irani chai.
Image Courtesy: Bussisreaddy

The arts play an important role in shaping the cultural context of Hyderabad. The city has received a lot of support in artistic fields, literature and architecture from several rulers, and learned polymaths made their way there to be revered.

Literature

The principle language spoken in Hyderabad is Telugu, but Urdu has been spoken here as well. The Qutub Shahs were quite supportive of these languages. The poetic script is influenced by the structure of Marathi, Persian and Telugu incantation. Fani, Dagh Dehlvi and Shelby Nomani are some literary scholars that have settled down in Hyderabad.

The love for literature invites the presence of libraries. The largest library in Telangana, the State Central Library, is located in Hyderabad.

Marfa Music

Marfa music draws from Arab music that invokes the use of rhythm and kettle drums. The music is played using hols, sticks and steel pots. Wooden strips called ‘thali’ are used as well. The Siddi community diaspora led to the prevalence of this musical form.

The drums play an integral role in the execution of Marfa Music.
Image Courtesy: Hyderabad Magazine

Marfa is accompanied by a typical dance, which involves the usage of swords and sticks. Men and women wield the sticks in synchronised formations. This performance is usually seen at the Red Fort in new Delhi on Independence Day.

Cultural Education

Osmania University is one of the well known colleges that provide master’s degrees in classical and modern languages as well as theatre, painting and communication. The Ravindra Bharathi, Shilpa Kala Vedhika and the Lalithkala Thoranam are well known spaces for theatre in the city.

The Solar Jung museum and the Birla science museum provide a cosmic analysis of the world through a planetarium, and also house a host of exhibits to observe. The HITEX or the Hyderabad International Convention Centre is another venue that holds several facilities to raise cultural world views.

Bidri Ware Craft and Numaish

The Numaish is an exhibition of local products that was started in 1938. Students of Osmania University started a sale to showcase their creations, and this has turned into a full fledged event.

Ornate handicrafts with a royal tinge, Bidriware is one of the most sought for skill among artisans.
Image Courtesy: Hema Narayanan

The Nampally ground, which spans over 23 acres forms the venue for this event. Bidri ware, which is extremely delicate work, is exhibited quite commonly here. This form was heavily popularised in the 18th century, and is still in great demand.

Architecture

Hyderabad sports a very unique architectural style. An Indo-Islamic fusion of styles is quite clear, and the intricacy of structures has garnered it the title of ‘Best Heritage City’. Lime mortar and granite were used as the media to create structures like the Mecca Masjis and the Charkaram.

The Mecca Masjid was set up by Mohammed Quli Qutub Shah. It is capable of accommodating 10,000 individuals during a prayer session!
Image Courtesy: Nityananda Mukherjee

The Falaknuma and the King Kothi palace are clear examples of Persian and European influences in the architectural style adopted.

It it thus clear that Hyderabad is quite a fusion of cultures. It is, in fact, mixed bag of influences, that must be examined and experienced as a whole.

You cannot get Hyderabadi Irani chai to your home, but you can get our Hyderabad Souvenir t-shirts! Buy one at our store – link.

Shantanu Tilak

Editorial Coordinator at GoUNESCO. A Literary and Cultural Studies student at FLAME University. Avid reader as well as a vehement traveler. I love food, I love spiritual art, and I also draw a lot on canvas and digitally. I've designed a bunch of t-shirt prints for nineteen51, and I've worked with Vogue and GQ on several special projects. I've also done a lot of field research in the contemporary Indian context as a part of college, so primary and secondary research are involuntary to me, like breathing. Read my other contributions on www.goheritagerun.com.

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