Runza or Runjha or Raunza or Runja

Runza  or Runjha or Raunza or Runja is a percussion musical instrument and a rare folk art from Telangana and it belongs to the Vishwakarma community, who take it as a sacred commitment. 

Avajamu, Dangaramu, Veeranamu are different synonyms for Ruza. A percussion instrument is a musical instrument that is sounded by being struck or scraped by a beater including attached or enclosed beaters or rattles struck, scraped or rubbed by hand or struck against another similar instrument.

Runja is a two-faced drum of the medieval times. It had a uniformly cylindrical body, 13½ inches long. Each face had a diameter of 8 inches, fitted with rings over the edge.

Brass ia also used in the making of Runza. Its height is about 3 or 3 1/2 feet. The upper part is covered with goats skin, eleven holes are made above and below and eleven chord are tightly tied all over so as to make a sling (utter in Telugu). The Runzas bend the instrument slantwise, press it firmly with knee and by pulling the strings with their hands and using slender bamboo sticks, produce musical notes rapidly.

There is a legend about the origin of Runza. According to that, Vishwakamra was requested to provide the drums for the marriage of Parvathi and Parmeshwara. Then Viswakarma killed the giant called Rounjaka, made a Runza out of his skin and produced 32 kinds of melodious notes by playing on it. Vishwakaram Puranam explains that the marriage and Parameshwara was conducted with that Runza only.

Runza troupe usually consists of six members. Two members out of six, play on Thalas (cymbals) and the other two members play on Ruza, the remaining two members play on Sonnai or Kommuburas

Carrying an ancient art form in their hearts and minds are these professional story tellers of Telangana. With the help of scrolls or music instruments, these families narrate tailor-made stories from epics and mythological tales to particular Telugu communities. Faced with starvation and uncertainty amidst the pandemic, these nomadic groups now want to be the last generation to live off telling stories. The art will not be passed on to our children, they will not suffer like we did- they say.

Amar Runja, is one of the handful musicians in the country today who can play this ferocious sounding instrument. He narrates the story of the God, Vishwakarma, who is believed to be the creator of the universe.