Bonalu A Unique Festival Of India
Colors mesmerize me, be it the rainbows formed due to interfaith hugging of green and vermilion gulal with purple water sprouting out of pichkari’s on holi or the rainbow formed in the puddles in monsoon.
|Little Girl With Bonalu|
Hyderabad is one of the most colourful cities in the country perhaps rivaled only by Jaipur, which obviously has a bias towards pink. But Hyderabad has no such bias it loves all its colors the black burquas of Khatoons from old city, to the Ochre dupattas and multicoloured mangalsutras of Marwari ladies shopping in begum bazaar. But nothing has prepared me for kaleidoscopic Bonalu.
As part of Hyderabad Weekend Shoots I joined a walk this Sunday for Bonalu festival at the Ujjaini Mahakali Temple in Secundrabad. Bonalu is a local festival of Telangana region dedicated to Mother Goddess and is celebrated during the hindu calendar month of Ashada (the same month Kalidas celebrated in his epic Meghdutam).
Bonam means Bojanaalu or a meal in Telugu, is an offering to the Mother Goddess. Women bring cooked rice with milk, sugar sometimes onions in a brass or earthen pot, adorned with small neem (Azhardicta indica) branches and turmeric, vermilion (kunkum) or Kadi (white chalk) and a lamp on the top. Women place the pots on their heads and take it to Goddess temple, led by drummers and dancing men high on the toddy that is consumed liberally.
Sri Ujjaini Mahankali Temple is an important temple dedicated to Shakti worship in Telangana. As the legend goes the deity was installed here in the beginning of 19th century by some devotees from Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh.
There were more than 40 photographers, but that was no match for the numbers in which the believers have shown up, hence I never got the opportunity to enter the temple, perhaps it is true when they say “you don’t go to the temple, the mother goddess calls you” so I am sure my day to visit temple will come but today was not that day.
|Smiling All The Way To The Temple|
The colors of Bonalu are a feast for eyes, kids and women clad in their finest clothes and jewelry, with colourful flowers in the hair were for a change getting competition from men in colourful dhoti’s and painted face to depict various demons that the Kali had destroyed in the epics that I grew on, long before imported superheroes made their debut on Indian box office. All this led to a very colourful morning though the sea of colours was occasionally polluted by the dirty white of the politicians visiting the temple, leaving stranded and waiting the very people who have voted them to power.
|A Devotee Dances His Way To The Temple|
Unfortunately I could not stay for very long and missed the evening festivities, but I am pretty sure Maa willing I will be back next year.
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