(Image source from: Thehansindia.com)
Telangana Celebrating Bonalu in Style:- Bonalu happens to be the traditional festival of Telangana state. Bonalu popularly known as Mahankali bonalu happens before Dasara and is a variation of durga matha festival. It is celebrated in twin cities Hyderabad and Secunderabad along with other parts of Telangana. It happens generally during July and August in Ashada Masam in the state. Bonam is derived from a Telugu word which means a meal.
Telangana women prepare 'Paayasam' which is a telugu sweer or dish in an earthen pot. The pot is decorated with turmeric, vermilion and neem leaves with a Diya lighted on the top of the pot. Women carry it on their heads and offer it to the goddess in the temples. This year Bonalu is celebrated on Monday.
History of Bonalu:
Bonalu is the festival of thanksgiving ritual to the goddess for fulfilling the dreams and vows of the devotees. There are different forms of worshipping Durga Matha: Kaali, Mysamma, Pochamma, Yellamma, Pedamma, Dokkalamma, Ankalamma, Poleramma, Maremma, Nookalamma ar some among them. Bonalu started in 1813 in the twin cities and it is celebrated widely in Telangana from over 100 years.
It is in 1817, a plague disease claimed thousands of lives in Hyderabad and Secunderabad. The locals prayed to Ujjain's Mahankali Temple saying that they would set up Mahankali's idol across the towns. The plague soon disappeared and people believed that it is because of the prayers offered to Durgamatha / Mahankaali. It is from then, Bonalu was celebrated across Telangana.
People believe that during Ashada Maasam, the goddess returns to her maternal home and people come offering food along with their love and affection towards Durga matha. It is like preparing a special meal when their own daughter is around. A group of devotees offers 'Thotte' which is a small colorful structure supported by sticks.
Some of the tranced women dance with joy as an honor for the local goddess between drum beats with pots on their heads. Some of the devotees ask them about their future and they predict their fate. Pothuraju is Mother Goddess' brother who wears a tiny-red dhoti and bells on his ankles. With turmeric for his entire body, neem leaves will be tied to his waist.
Bonalu is also known as Ashada Jathara and is the biggest festival in Telangana. Telangana Government declared it as a state festival in 2014. This year it is extended over four Sundays. On July 04th, Thursday, Bonalu 2019 festivities began at Jagadambika temple, Golconda Fort. Celebrations will take place on July 21 at Ujjaini Mahankali Temple in Secunderabad and Balkampet Yellamma Temple in Balkampet.
On July 28, Pochamma and Katta maisamma temple Lal Darwaza's Matheswari temple will celebrate the festival. Women prepare all the pots needed, dress in traditional saree while young girls in lehengas or half sarees put the pots on their heads. They believe that Durga Matha drives away all the evils and help them during the monsoon season.