By KS Reddy
Bonalu is an important festival celebrated in twin cities and in other parts of Telangana. The word “Bonalu” is derived from “Bhojanalu” meaning food, which is offered to the Goddess. It is celebrated during the month of ‘Ashadam’.The festivites begin at the Sree Jagadambika temple atop the Golconda Fort. Bonalu Jatara is a month long affair and includes colourful processions and community feasts
HISTORY BEHIND BONAALU
The history of the origin of this festival traces back to the 19th Century. In the year 1813, plague disease broke out in the twin cities, and this took away the lives of thousands of people. Just before this, a military battalion from Hyderabad was deployed to Ujjain. When this Hyderabad Military Battalion got to know about the epidemic in the cities, they prayed to the Mother Goddess in Mahankaal Temple – Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh. History tells us, that this military battalion prayed to Goddess Mahankaali, to kill plague, and if the Goddess would do so, they had decided to install an idol of Goddess Mahankaali in the city. It is believed that Mahankaali destroyed the disease and kept pestilence at arms length. Then, the military battalion returned to the city and installed an idol of the goddess, which was followed by the offering of Bonalu to her. Hence, from then, this had turned a tradition, which has been followed and is still being followed by all the people belonging to Telangana.
Other versions also include 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, and so, this period is the most optimal time to offer Bonalu to the goddess. This can be compared to the treatment of a girl, who is married, and then returns to her birthplace, and is pampered by her parents.
What is in BONAM??
The offerings consist of cooked rice, jaggery, curd, water (known as Bonam) and other dishes which are brought in the pots are given to the Goddesses in the temples. It is believed that the offerings ward off evils and epidemics during monsoon. Women carry these pots on their heads and make an offering of Bonam, including Bangles and Saree to the Goddess at Temples. Every group of devotees offer a Thottelu (a small colorful, paper structure supported by sticks), as a mark of respect.
He is considered as guardian angel is some parts of India. 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
HOW THE FESTIVAL CONCLUDES ??
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. The present oracle at Sri Ujjaini Mahakali Devasthanam and other major temples of Secunderabad is Kumari Erupula Swarnalatha .
Ghatam is a copper pot, decorated in the form of mother goddess. 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 people wait along the main streets of Laldarwaza to Nayapul and watch the exquisitely and elaborately decorated Ghatams. Young men dance in a unique style to the drum beats and folk songs alongside Pothuraju, dress-up in various mythological roles.