Telangana besides being India’s youngest state has a legacy of about 5000 years, the state of Telangana is the representative of the Deccan Plateau and its heritage from times immemorial. From the royal Hindu kings to the Nizams Hyderabad has been flourished in every aspect to its fullest. Some aspects of Telangana that distinguish it from the rest of India are discussed below.
Bonalu is one of the well known festivals in India and is celebrated by the people of the Hindu community. It is mostly celebrated in the Festivals of Hyderabad and Secuderabad and also some parts of Telengana. The Bonalu festival is celebrated to pay respects to Mahakali, The Mother Goddess.
During the festival of Bonalu, people offer homage to the Mother Goddess by offering cooked rice mixed with milk and sugar. The meal is stored in brass vessels or earthen-pots which are decorated with neem branches and turmeric, vermillion and white chalk. People take out processions to go to the temple and the processions are accompanied by drummers. Traditional dances are also performed in the procession.
The festival of Bonalu reached its peak during the reign of the Nizams, who took part in the event. The festival is also celebrated to honor Gangamma thalli and her brother Pothula Raju. The festive procession begins with the worship of the Golconda Mahankali inside the Golconda Fort and proceeds on to Ujjani Mahankali temple and Balkampet Yellamma temple in Secunderabad. Later the procession covers all parts of the city.
Bonalu is mainly celebrated in the period between July and August. Special pujas are performed for Yellamma during the first and last day of the festival. It is a type of a thanksgiving to the Mother Goddess for accomplishment of vows.
The festival history has started in 1813 in Hyderabad & Secuderabad regimental bazzar. Plague disease broke out in Twin Cities of Hyderabad & Secunderabad, claiming thousands of lives. Before this a military battalion of Hyderabad is deployed to Ujjain, knowing about the Plague in Hyderabad the military battalion prayed to the Mother Goddess in Mahankaal Temple – Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh, that if people were saved from the epidemic they would install the idol of Mahankali back in their city. It is believed that Mahākālī destroyed the disease and keeps pestilence at arms length. Military Battalion came back to the city & installed an Idol and every year people offered Bonalu to Mother Goddess Mahankali.
Other version also includes the mythological story and belief that revolves around the festival, says that this is the time when Goddess Mahakali comes back to her parental home, in Ashada Maasam or the period from late June to August. Like daughters are much pampered in their parental homes.
On the day of Bonalu, women dress themselves in traditional silk sarees and decorate themselves with traditional jewelry. Traditional dances with balancing pots are also performed to the rhythmic beats of drums to pay homage to the local goddess. Each group of devotees collectively offer a Thottela, which is small paper structure erected with sticks.
Pothuraju, the brother of Mother Goddess, is represented in the procession by a well-built, bare-bodied man, wearing a small tightly draped red dhoti and bells on his ankles, and anointed with turmeric on his body and vermilion on his forehead. He dances to resounding drums.
He always dances before the Palaharam Bandi, the procession. He is considered the initiator of the festivities and the protector of the community. He leads the tranced female dancers who are under spell of the Mother Goddess (known as shigam) to the temple, with lashing whips and emerald neem leaves (margosa) tied around their waists, accompanied by trumpets and drums
Ghatam is a copper pot, decorated in the form of mother goddess. The Ghatam is carried by a priest, who wears a traditional Dhoti and body with smeared in turmeric . The Ghatam is taken into procession from first day of the festival till last day, when it is immersed in water. The Ghatam in usually accompanied by drums.
Ghatam is followed after Rangam. The festival concludes with immersion of Ghatam. The ghatam of Haribowli’s Akkanna Madanna Temple leads the procession, placed atop an elephant and accompanied by mounted horses and models depicting Akkanna and Madanna. It ends in the evening with a glittering procession and display followed by immersion of ghatams at Nayapul.
A carnival-like atmosphere, where thousands of pe wait along the main streets of Laldarwaza to Nayapul and watch the exquisitely and elaborately decoratedGhatams. Young men dance in a unique style to the drum beats and folk songs alongside Pothuraju, dress-up in various mythological roles.
The Ghatams of the Secunderabad City (Lashkar) include Ujjaini Mahakali & Mahadevi Pochamma at Karbala Maidan, Dokkalamma at Himam Bavi, Muthyalamma at Kalasiguda, Nallagutta, Pan Bazar, Chilkalguda, Uppara Basthi, Kummariguda, Regimental Bazar and Bhoiguda, etc.
The Ghatams of the Old city procession include the Mahankali temples in Haribowli Akkanna-Madanna, Laldarwaza, Uppuguda, Miralam Mandi and Kasaratta, the Jagadamba temple of Sultanshahi, Bangaru Mysamma temple of Shalibanda, Alijah Kotla and Gowlipura, and Sultanshahi, Darbar Mysamma of Aliabad, Mysamma Temple of Boggulkunta (FGP) and Mutyalamma temple of Chandulal Bela.
Rangam, or Performing the Oracle, is held the next morning of the festival. A Women standing atop of an earthen pot ‘invoked’ goddess Mahankali onto her and performs the custom. She foretells the year ahead when devotees ask about the future. This takes place before the procession is started.
Bathukamma is a festival or panduga celebrated by the Hindu Women of the Telangana State, India. Every year this festival falls in September–October and as per lunar calendar in the Bhadrapada Amavasya, also known as Mahalaya Amavasya. Bathukamma is celebrated for nine days during Durga Navratri. It starts on the day of Mahalaya Amavasya and the 9-day festivities will culminate on “Saddula Bathukamma” or “Pedda Bathukamma” festival on Ashwayuja Ashtami, popularly known as Durgashtami which is two days before Dussehra. Bathukamma is followed by Boddemma, which is a 7-day festival. Boddemma festival that marks the ending of Varsha Ruthu whereas Bathukamma festival indicates the beginning of Sarad Ruthu or Sharath Ruthu.
Bathukamma represents cultural spirit of Telangana. Bathukamma is a beautiful flower stack, arranged with different unique seasonal flowers most of them with medicinal value, in seven concentric layers in the shape of potter’s clay like a cone. In Telugu, ‘Bathukamma’ means ‘Mother Goddess Come Alive’ and Goddess Maha Gauri-‘Life Giver’ is worshipped in the form of Bathukamma – the patron goddess of womanhood (Maha Gauri Devi)
It is the festival for feminine felicitation. On this special occasion women dress up in the traditional sari combining it with jewels and other accessories. Teenage Girls wear Langa-Oni/Half-Sarees/Lehenga Choli combining it with jewels in order to bring out the traditional grace of the attire.
On First five days women will clean their vakili (Courtyard), cow dung mixed with water is spread in front of the doorstep or courtyard as a ground-base, decorate the yard with ManagalAkara or Muggu Patterns or Rangoli made with Rice Flour. For the first five days Batukamma is prepared with cow dung. Five small lumps in cone shape are arranged in the Vakili.
Men in the house gather flowers from the wild plains like (Celosia), (Senna auriculata), (Tagetes), (Chrysanthemum), (Nelumbo nucifera), & (Cucurbita), & (Cucumis Sativus), (Memecylon edule), (Tridax procumbens), (Trachyspermum ammi), Katla, Teku Flowers, which bloom in this season in various vibrant colors all across the uncultivated and barren plains of the region.
Preparing a Bathukamma is a folk art. Women start preparing Bathukamma from the afternoon. They cut the flowers leaving the little length base, some dip Gunugu (Celosia) flowers in various vibrant colours, some scented and arrange them on a wide plate called Thambalam, and stack them up in a conical mound, decorated with a Lotus or Pumpkin Flower on top of the stack along with Guramma (a symbolic idol of Gowri made of turmeric).
In the evening, women gather in large numbers with their Bathukammas in open areas of their locality, all women will form a circle around the Bathukamma and all women start singing folk songs by clapping their hands and revolving around the Bathukamma, synchronizing steps and claps in unison provide a splendorous look to the festivities. Women seek good health, prosperity and happiness for their families. The songs are to invoke the blessings of various goddesses. By principle, the rendition end with any one of the following three tributes Uyyaala, Chandamama or Gouramma.
Diwali is one of the major festivals of India and is celebrated with huge fervour in most of the Indian states. This is festival is full of fireworks and light. There are lots of accompanying festivals that are celebrated in different areas during the season of Diwali. These festivals follow different customs and principles and each area celebrates them according to their tradition being followed over the years. These festivals are known by different names in different areas. Telangana is no exception to the rule as there are lots of festivals celebrated in the state during Diwali season. The Sadar festival is one of them. The word, Sadar means “main”.
In most of the Indian states, there are specific festivals that are community centric. The Sadar festival too is one such festival, as it is celebrated by the people who belong to the Yadav community. These Yadavs belong to the OBC (Other Backward Caste) category according to the classification provided by the Indian Government. People in Telangana, who belong to the “Goala” caste, belong to the Yadav community. This is the main festival for them and hence the festival has got its name “Sadar”.
The Sadar festival is celebrated every year on the second day after Diwali. In the villages of Telangana, this festival is also known as Dunnapothula panduga. This festival is marked by innumerable buffaloes decorated by their owners. At any point of the year, this festival is one occasion, where one can see the biggest group of buffaloes in the state. These buffaloes have a field day on this festival as they are decorated beautifully on this day. Their entire body is covered with turmeric paste, their horns are painted in beautiful colours and beads with tinkling bells are worn around their necks. A Kumkum bindhi is applied on their foreheads and they are taken along the busy streets of the state with pride by their respective owners.
There are hundreds of people who participate in this buffalo parade and keep dancing along as they move along with the buffaloes. Songs are played very loudly in loudspeakers installed across majority of the streets and the crowd breaks into festive spirits as they participate in the rally. The buffaloes are trained by their owners to perform interesting tricks like balancing themselves using their hind legs. Competitions are held for these buffaloes and the ones that catch the fancy of the audience are awarded.
Most of the crowd members who dance as the buffaloes are taken out on a ride are relatives and friends of the owners who come out in support to cheer the owners and their respective buffaloes for the competitions. This festival is rightly known as the “buffalo carnival of Hyderabad”, as this is the city which has Yadav community people in large numbers. This festival garners much attention from media as well as lots of bigwigs in politics and who belong to this community attend this festival.
Samakka Saralamma Festival
The Kumbh Mela is a festival that is celebrated with huge fervour in North India. This festival sees the highest number of pilgrims at one single place. The Samakka Saralamma festival is believed by many to attract a large number of pilgrims, next only to Kumbh Mela. Just like Kumbh Mela, this tribal festival too attracts a lot of foreign tourists who are spellbound by experiencing the culture, heritage and history of the tribal population. This festival is held during the month of February once every two years. It is celebrated for four days with great zeal. The venue for this festival is the town of Medaram in Warrangal district. Medaram is a place that is located in a dense wildlife sanctuary of Eturnagaram. This is also the largest forest belt existing today in Deccan region. This place is located at a distance of around 90km from Warrangal city.
Samakka and Saralamma are famous tribal Goddesses where Samakka is the mother and Saralamma is the daughter. These two Goddesses fought against the kings who ruled this part of the city as their rule was not honest and fair. They fought against the rulers for the welfare of the people and hence they are worshipped even today with utmost sincerity and dedication. This festival not only attracts the tribal population of Telangana, but it also serves as a perfect platform for the tribal population from the states of Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Karnataka to get together and pray to Goddesses for their welfare.
It was estimated that during 2008, around 8 million people had thronged Warrangal city to attend this festival. During 2012, this figure grew to a phenomenal 10 million. In 2013, more than one crore pilgrims from across the globe participated in this festival. This festival is full of celebration in praise of the Goddesses who saved them from the unjust rulers. There are no Vedic aspects attached to this festival. Until 1998, pilgrims had a tough time reaching Medaram since the only available mode of transport was a bullock cart. However, sensing the huge amount of people flowing into the city with every passing year, roads were constructed. During the time of Samakka Saralamma festival, traffic in Warrangal city queues up to a distance of around 60km.
During this festival, people perform Thulabaram (that is they offer objects equivalent to their body weight) to the Goddesses. In this festival, the main offering done against the pilgrim’s weight is jiggery. After this offering, tourists take a holy tip in the Jampanna Vagu, where Jampanna is believed to be the son of tribal Goddess Samakka and Vagu denotes stream. Jampanna died during the battle against the Kakatiyan Kings. The stream is red in colour due the soil nature here, however people believe that it denotes Jampanna sacrificing his life for the welfare of his tribal community. One can find a bridge, Jampanna Vagu Bridge constructed over this stream. It is believed that the Tribal Goddesses become very happy when the people celebrate the festival in huge fervour and make the offerings in jiggery.
Ayak Or Bhimanna
This festival is celebrated by Kolam tribal inhabiting Laindiguda, Utmur Taluq Adilabad district. This falls in the Kolam month of satti. Ayak also known as Bhimana or Bhimdev, is the principal deity of the Kolams. He is represented by a carved wooden mace usually crowned with a bunch of peacock feathers, a pot containing pher or a belt of bells, marwar or anklets and small dolls made of mud. All these are kept in a thatched shed. On a Thursday, the relics of Bhimama are brought and kept in the heart of the village in a small green lead enclosure. On the first day a fowl or a goat is sacrificed. On the following day the relics of the dirty are taken to Mohamloddi, a hill stream about eighteen kilometers from the village for bathing the deity. After bringing back the deity to bath in the evening, a buffalo purchased collectively is sacrificed.
The sacrifices are done to fulfill their vows. The meat of the scarified animal is cooked and eaten by all the people of the tribe. First meal is served to all the priests. Cooked jowar mixed with the food of the sacrificed animals, goes around the village, small quantities of it on all the cornerstones and comes back. The deity is taken to its original abode the following day. This festival lasts for three days. It is confined to Kolam tribals only. They do not allow people of other communities to be present at the time of sacrifice.