Bhatlapenumarru: Even the history books do not have much on Bhatlapenumarru, a tiny village amid lush green fields in Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh, though it was where a national legend, Pingali Venkaiah, was born.
A two-story building built a few years ago with money pooled by the villagers and some philanthropists, which is used mostly as a community hall, is the only memorial’ that stands in the name of Pingali Venkaiah, the architect of the Indian National Flag.
A life-size statue of Venkaiah, along with that of Mahatma Gandhi, greets visitors at the village centre.
Venkaiah was a close follower of the Mahatma and it was the latter who approved the national flag designed by him, at the Indian National Congress session in Vijayawada in 1921.
Venkaiah’s family and other kin left the village for other places decades ago and their connection with Bhatlapenumarru is now only nostalgic.
For the villagers too, Venkaiah was generations apart, though he is still revered with pride and devotion.
On August 2, the 146th birth anniversary of Venkaiah was celebrated on a grand scale in the village, with the locals displaying patriotic fervour and paying glowing tributes to the legendary son of the soil.
The villagers carried a 300-ft tricolour round the village while the district administration organised flag hoisting and cultural events.
“Bhatlapenumarru is like any other village, except that it is now rather known by its legend. The village, with a population of about 3,500, basks in the glory only of Pingali Venkaiah’s name,” observed a local citizen Koteswara Rao.
A few years ago, the then MP from Vijayawada, Lagadapati Rajagopal, organised a Tiranga Run in memory of Pingali Venkaiah and to give Bhatlapenumarru a pride of place on the national map.
“That was probably the only effort to bring the village into limelight but nothing happened thereafter,” Koteswara Rao pointed out.
Just a couple of miles from Bhatlapenumarru stands Kuchipudi, a village that found its place on the international map, thanks to the Indian classical dance form by the same name that originated here.
As the nation celebrates “Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav”, commemorating the 75th anniversary of Independence, and a Har Ghar Tiranga’ campaign undertaken to “invoke the feeling of patriotism in the hearts of people and promote awareness about the Indian National Flag”, there is indeed a sense of pride among Bhatlapenumarru villagers.
“Mana jaatiya jhanda maa gadda meeda roopudiddukovatam maaku yeppatiki garva kaaranam. Adi maa poorvikula adrushtam,” says P K Prasad, a 62-year-old villager. (It is always a matter of pride that our national flag took shape on our land. Our forefathers were fortunate to have lived in that era with the great man.)
Union Minister for Tourism and Culture G Kishan Reddy visited Bhatlapenumarru on July 31 to pay homage to Pingali Venkaiah as part of the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav celebrations. He was the first Union Minister to ever visit the village.
Kishan Reddy directed the Krishna district administration to install a huge National Flag in the village in honour of its architect.
He also promised to build a Pingali Venkaiah Memorial in the village if the state government provided land.
“We will instal the mega flag in the next two-three months. The Union Minister also asked us to develop the local village tank, which we will be doing,” Krishna district Joint Collector R Mahesh Kumar said.
Official sources said, except for routine events in schools like drawing and other competitions for students on the theme, not much activity is planned in Bhatlapenumarru as part of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav.