Bonalu – Festival Of Telangana
Bonalu also known as Ashada Jatara is an eleven-day Hindu festival celebrated in Hyderabad, Secunderabad, and parts of Telangana in the month of Ashada (July/August). It is the festival where Goddess Mahakali is worshipped and Bonam is offered to Goddess. The festival is considered a form of thanksgiving to the Goddess after the fulfillment of vows.
Bonalu 2022 begins on the 3rd of July, 2022, Sunday, and ends on the 24th of July, 2022, Sunday. The festivities can be witnessed in the temples of Hyderabad, Secunderabad, and also in the other parts of Telangana. So, mark your calendars already to experience some of the magical days in South India.
The word Bonam is a contraction of the word Bhojanam, a Sanskrit loanword that means a meal or a feast in Telugu, and is an Offering to Mother Goddess. Women in the household prepare rice that is cooked with milk, and jaggery in a new earthen or brass pot, which is adorned with neem leaves, turmeric, and vermilion. Women make an offering of Bonam, including bangles and saree to the Mother Goddess at temples, and carry these pots on their heads.
During the nearly month-long festival, people also hold ‘rangam’ or forecast the future, and organize processions and cultural events. Families and neighborhoods come to be linked together during the festival. Non-Telugu speakers, villagers, and tribal peoples may be integrated into the city through their participation in the festival. Even while they maintain their specific identities through their worship of a particular goddess and maintenance of a particular shrine.
The goddess is invoked, to assure good crops or a successful monsoon, so much as to assure prosperity in the time of any adversity and to provide a sense of safety in the face of external threats.
The processions of Bonalu are highly colorful accompanied by thousands of people. Women carry pots on their heads filled with cooked rice as an offering to goddess Kali, while various performers dress up in costumes to perform during the procession. Bonalu involves the worship of the Mother Goddess in regional forms like Mysamma, Pochamma, Yellamma, Peddhamma, Dokkalamma, Ankalamma, Poleramma, Maremma, Nookalamma.
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The origin of this Bonalu festival traces back to the 17th Century and is connected with the “Regimental Bazaar” and the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad. In the year 1833, a severe plague disease bust out in the 2 cities, and this took away the lives of many people. The Plague started becoming dangerous then originated the belief that the Plague was a curse by the Mother Goddess – Mahakali and she was riled(angered) at the locals.
People believed that the epidemic was due to the anger of the Mahakali. Mahakali saved them from epidemic disease locals returned to the city & installed an idol of the goddess Mahakali, which was followed by the gift of Bonalu to her. Since then there is a tradition, which has been followed and is still being followed by all the people belonging to Telangana of offering Bonalu to the Goddess.
Other versions also include the mythological story and belief that revolves around the festival, which 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, then returns to her birthplace, and is pampered by her parents.
Bonalu is celebrated in various parts of the city. On the first Sunday of ‘Aashaadam’, celebrations are held at the temple at Golconda Fort. On the second Sunday, at Ujjaini Mahakali Temple in Secunderabad and Balkampet Yellamma temple, and on the third Sunday, at The pochamma and Katta Maisamma temple of Chilkalguda and the Matheswari temple of Lal Darwaza in the Old City of Hyderabad. Akkanna Madanna temple in Haribowli, Muthyalamma temple in Shah Ali Banda are among the other temples where Bonalu is celebrated. Every year, Lakhs of devotees congregate to pay obeisance to Mahankali.
The word Bonam is derived from the word Bhojanam (a Sanskrit loan word) which means a meal Telugu, is an Offering to Mother Goddess. Women prepare rice cooked with Milk, Jaggery in a New Brass or Earthen Pot adorned with Neem Leaves, Turmeric, Vermilion, and a lit lamp on the top of the Pot. Women carry the pots on their heads and make offerings of Bonam along with Turmeric-Vermilion, Bangles, and Saree to the Mother Goddess across the Temples.
Rangam or Performing the Oracle, is held the next morning of the festival. A Woman 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.
Ghatam is followed after Rangam. The festival concludes with the immersion of Ghatam. Ghatam is a copper pot, decorated in the form of the mother goddess. The Ghatam is carried by a priest, who wears a traditional Dhoti and body smeared in turmeric. The Ghatam is taken into procession from the first day of the festival till the last day when it is finally immersed in water.
Telangana Bonalu Jatara 2022 Schedule
Bonalu Festival is celebrated on the Shashti tithi of Shukla paksha (sixth day) of the month of Ashadha. The festival is celebrated across Hyderabad in all of the 18 temples, part of the Old City. The first major festival is held on the first Sunday of the Ashada month at the Sri Jagadamba temple in Golconda Fort. The next vital festival is celebrated on the second Sunday at the Ujjain Mahankali Temple in Secunderabad. The third main festival is celebrated on the third Sunday at the Matheswari Temple of Laldarwaja.
July 3 – The Bonalu Jatara 2022 will begin by offering ‘Bonam’ at Golconda Jagadamba Temple (a regional holiday).
July – Bonam will be offered to Goddess Durga in Vijayawada Kanaka Durga Temple.
July – Bonalu at the Ujjaini Mahankali Temple in Secunderabad.
July – ‘Rangam’ and ‘Phalaharam’.
July – ‘Bonalu’ in Lal Darwaza temple in Old City.
July 24 – Concluding ceremony.
This festival is celebrated every year by the people of Telangana it is a very important regional festival celebrated by thousands of local people. Roads are full of devotes of Mahakali. There are lots of people who come from around the world to see this celebration. This festival ensures the safety of locals from any type of plague, disease, etc.
Suggested Read: Culture and Tradition of Telangana