Upon completion of this genealogy project, I was able to successfully determine my ancestry and lineage. The results of my and me DNA kit showed that I am 97.0% South Indian and Sri Lankan and 3.0% Bengali and Northeast Indian. My maternal haplogroup is M33a2a. It was interesting to trace back my haplogroup and see that my ancestry follows all the way back to Africa.
My paternal grandmother, Govindamma, paternal cousin, Divya, and my parents were able to provide me with information about my maternal and paternal ancestry. Due to no records or birth certificate practices in the 1900s in India, I was not able to find out the exact dates my maternal and paternal grandparents were born or married. Moreover, I did not find any information in databases as it is not a common practice to upload family ancestry online in India. Through research, I was able to understand the sacrifices my paternal grandparents and maternal grandparents have made, as well as more information pertaining to their careers. I also learned more about my great-grandparents on both sides and found out many things I would’ve never expected.
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The Life of Ramaswamy Guttula and Sundaramma Guttula (paternal great-grandparents)
Back in the 1900s, the East Coast of Andhra Pradesh was known for its rich seafood, industrial luxuries, and unique handicrafts. Unfortunately, this also meant colonization. Kakinandivada was a Dutch settlement and was known for its imports and exports of “Sarees”, a type of Indian attire for women. The city was primarily dominated by Telugu-speaking habitants and Hinduism was the dominant religion. When the British took over the land and established the Canadian Baptist Mission, they changed the city’s name to “Cocanada”, as “coca” meant sarees in Telugu. The British deemed Cocanada to be useful to them as it was a port city that facilitated import and export business. They introduced Christianity into the region as well and formed many churches. Once India regained its independence, the city’s name was changed to Kakinada and remains with the name today. Kakinada carries the legacy of my ancestry as it has changed my family’s fate, specifically my grandfather’s, for the better. While it is unclear as to when my paternal grandfather, Ramaswamy Guthula, was born, it is known that he was born in Kapileswarapuram. Kapileswarapuram is a mandal in the East Godavari District of Andhra Pradesh and is located 5 hours away from Kakinada. The childhood of Ramaswamy is unknown of as he did not divulge much about his life to anyone and passed away quite early in his life. He was born in the 1920s and got married in the 1940s at a very young age as child marriage was common in that time period. He was wedded to 14-year-old Sundaramma. They lived in Ramaswamy’s parents’ house in Kapileswarapuram and went on to give birth to 8 children- 4 boys and 4 girls. Their children are Venkatswamy, Ramarao, Nageswararao, Durga, Lakshmi, Siripella, and Satyannarayana. Once their oldest child, Venkatswamy, turned 14 years old, they decided to move to a more developed area so that they can start earning better and provide decent education for their children. Despite desires to move to a well-known city that was far from home, they had to keep in mind their expenses for traveling. Thus, they chose Kakinada. It was not too close to home, but it was not too far either. Ramaswamy Guthula started working at a cotton factory close to their home, while Sundaramma was a housewife and took care of the kids. They had a decent life living in rented house with their 8 kids. After marrying all of their daughters off, Ramaswamy and Sundaramma decided to start marrying their sons as well. Their son Venkatswamy got married in 1970 to Govindamma Medisetti. Ramaswamy and Sundaramma eventually expired and were cremated in Kakinada.
The life of Venkatswamy Guttula and Govindamma Guttula (paternal grandparents)
Birth certificates and celebrating birthdays were not a common practice in the 1950s for my family- thus, both of my grandparents are not aware of the actual date of their birthday. It is speculated that Venkatswamy Guthula was born in 1945 in Kapileswarapuram while Govindamma Guthula was born in 1953 In Vakada. Govindamma was born to Venkanna and Gangamma Medisetti and has two older brothers. Venkatswamy followed the steps of his father and worked at the same cotton mill factory. It is speculated that Govindamma and Venkatswamy got married in 1970. They stayed in Govindamma’s village, Vakada, for the first few years of their married life where my father and aunt were born in 1972 and 1974 respectively. Eventually, in 1975, Venkatswamy and Govindamma built their very own house in Turangi, Kakinada. In this new house, my second aunt was born. This house still stands to this day and now houses my two aunts, Kumari and Bhavani. This house is very special to my family as it is the first house ever built in my entire family. Govindamma and Venkatswamy lived very close to Venkatswamy’s brother, Nageswararao, and Govindamma’s brothers, Veera Raghava Swamy and Suryannaryana. Venkatswamy died in 2006 due to complications caused by diabetes and was cremated by his only son, Nageswararao. Govindamma still lives in the same house in Turangi with her two daughters and their families.
The life of Narayanamma Geesala and Paparao Kota (maternal grandparents)
Narayanamma’s birthdate is not known due to records or birth certificates in the early 1900s. She was adopted by the Geesala family, which is very surprising as adoption was not a big concept in those times. Moreover, Narayanamma belonged to the Kshatriya caste, which was different from my caste, Setti Balija/ Gowda. Narayanamma was born in Tuni and lived there till she was married. Her mother was Anasuya Geesala while her father’s name remains unknown. Paparao Kota was born in the 1940s to Appayamma and Neralu Kota in Hamsavaram. Narayanamma married Paparao through an arranged marriage and lived in Tuni, where my older uncle, Kanaka Rao, and aunt, Sathyavathi, where born. After the birth of my aunt, Narayanamma decided to move to Kakinada to start a business and earn more for her expanding family. Paparao and Narayanamma built a house in Indrapalem, Kakinada where Paparao continued farming with cattle and fields that he bought. Narayanamma was a very strongminded and motivated woman- qualities that were not too common in those days. She started a wood business with trees that became a huge success, blessing their family financially. During this success, Narayanamma had a miscarriage which really affected her. She decided to have as many children as possible after this miscarriage and eventually gave birth to my younger uncle, Diwakar. She conceived my mother accidentally, but joyfully, and gave birth to her in 1977. My mother was named Durga after goddess Durga Devi appeared in Narayanamma’s dreams and asked her to name her unborn daughter after her. Sathyavathi eventually married Rambabu, a government bus system employee while Kanaka Rao married Uma Maheswari after dropping out of medical school. Diwakar became a classical kuchipudi teacher and is even showcased in the Guinness World Record Book of 2011. He married Padma in 2003 and recently adopted a baby girl. Narayanamma died in 2000 because of stomach cancer while Paparao lives with Diwakar to this day.
The life of Nageswararao Guthula (Father)
Nageswararao Guthula is the firstborn of Govindamma and Venkatswamy. He was born in my grandmother’s house on May 20, 1972. He moved to his current house in Turangi when he was 3 and grew up in that house, staying there even after he got married. He has a close bond with his sisters, Kumari and Bhavani, and was like a second father figure to them. Nageswararao was a poor student and did not care much for his studies until he had to repeat his 10th grade after failing English. This failure caused him to take his education seriously and he passed his intermediate and Bachelor’s degree with distinction. After completing his degree in the sciences, he scored a full scholarship at Andhra University, Vizag. He completed his Master’s in Chemistry where he was the topper of his university for a consecutive two years. During his Master’s, he was set to get married to his cousin. They were about to get engaged when a small fight happened between their families, which called off their wedding. He got a job in Hyderabad at MSN labs. A common family friend introduced his family to Durga’s family, and they eventually got an arranged marriage. Nageswararao’s family insisted Durga to change her name as Nageswararao’s aunt was also named Durga and lost her son when he was young. To escape that omen repeating again, they renamed her “Valli”. Nageswararao then moved to Hyderabad permanently and started working in Dr. Reddy’s Labs, a well-known pharmaceutical company. He got an offer in September 1999 to move to the United States and work with Ranbaxy Pharmaceuticals. In December 1999, he moved to the United States and rented an apartment with one of his friends. A year later, he brought my mom to America as well and they continued living in that same apartment after his friend moved out. Durga gave birth to me a year later and in 2003, Rishi Guthula was born. In 2005, we moved to South Brunswick from North Brunswick and have resided there since. My father has made amazing strides in his career- he started as a chemist in 1999 and is now an Executive Director at a leading pharmaceuticals company. My mother now works as a chemist in Aurolife Pharmaceuticals.
I am truly blessed to have this luxurious life in America. I always grew up with gratitude for my father as we are the only family from both sides that live in the United States. My dad is the only educated person from his family and has been an inspiration for many. His path of success motivates to give all my efforts towards my goals as well. My mother’s dedication and my father’s hard work have taught me to never take things for granted and to be humble in life. I have honored their wish to see a doctor in the family and am now on the path towards studying medicine. The dedication of my ancestors inspires and tells me that new risks should always be taken in life and that one should not stop at one success. It is crucial to always aim higher from where you are as it could lead you to great heights. This project has allowed me to understand my family dynamic more and increase my gratitude towards my extended family.
Guthula, Sachita, "The Tale of My Ancestry" (2020). Genetics and Genealogy Family History Narratives. 17.