Spiritual literature on palm leaves in modern age

THE HANS INDIA |   Feb 07,2017 , 04:33 AM IST


Rajamahendravaram: Deviating from the normal practice of printing on paper, a printer in East Godavari district, Srinivas, is publishing devotional literature on palm leaves using the screen-printing technique in the current electronic age. 

Resident of remote Yetipattu village on the banks of River Godavari in Sitanagaram mandal of the district, Srinivas takes his job quite seriously as it is a major source of livelihood for him. Apart from spiritual literature, he prints invitation and visiting cards on the palm leaves. 

It may sound strange but wonderful. Many well known people and institutions have evinced interest about palm leaf printing. Now people are treating it as a style statement to use this variety for wedding and other occasion cards.

His father, Trimurtulu was the forerunner for Srinivas in printing. Trimurtulu experimented with printing on palm leaves as he wanted to do something differently. Srinivas stepped into the shoes of his father ever since the latter’s death six years ago. 

He obtains the raw material—palm leaves—by deploying workers. He dries the leaves and cuts them into strips before printing on them through screen printing. He treats the printed palm leaves chemically to ensure that the printed letters do not wear out. If necessary, he gets the leaves laminated. He binds the palm leaf spiritual literature and sells them to customers. 

“Because of job satisfaction, I forget the drudgery that goes into printing of spiritual literature on palm leaves. I forget my tiredness when people praise me and my work. I am happy whatever meager amount that I earn out of the profession,” a beaming Srinivas said. 

Invitations printed on palm leaves are becoming special attractions at weddings and functions. The state government should encourage palm-leaf manuscripts used for chanting divine names and for puja purposes. He is in favour of stalls being exclusively allotted at various temples to printers like Srinivas. It would create a lot of interest among people about our ancient manuscripts. 

He said that the TTD should encourage printing of such spiritual literature to improve livelihood opportunities of the printer. Moreover, printing on palm leaves is eco-friendly. Srinivas said that his mother and brother Siva support him in his small enterprise. He said though his earnings are meager, he would not stop his work which his father had started. Srinivas sought official support to sell spiritual literature printed on palm leaves at Annavaram, Bhadrachalam and Srisailam and also at Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam. 

On being told by Annavaram temple authorities that they would provide a small stall to enable him to push his palm leaf literature, he went there along with material worth Rs 1 lakh, but was disappointed to learn from authorities that they had auctioned off all stalls and advised him to run his shop with the permission of the person who won the shop in the auction. A disappointed Srinivas said that as a result he had to sell the palm-leaf works on the outside of the temple. 

By M Sri Rama Murthy

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