India, famous for its cultural diversity worldwide, has rich diversity when it comes to festivals. Bonalu is one such famous festival that India celebrates.
This article includes details on how India celebrates Bonalu. Aspirants of competitive exams like UPSC and IAS can refer to the following sections to enhance their knowledge.
Bonalu Festival 2021 started on 11th July 2021 and ended on 8th August 2021. In 2022, Bonalu celebrations will begin from 3rd July and end on 24th July.
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What is the Bonalu Festival?
- Bonalu festival is a traditional Hindu festival that is celebrated in Telangana, India. This festival centers on Goddess Mahakali. People of twin states Hyderabad and Secunderabad participate in this festival during July/August.
- Devotees perform special Poojas or ceremonies for Goddess Yellamma. Yellamma is one of the many regional forms of Goddess Mahakali. Devotees consider Bonalu a thanksgiving to Goddess Kali because she fulfills their wishes.
- The word ‘Bonam’ originates from ‘Bhojanam’, a Sanskrit word that means feast in Telugu. First, women cook rice with jaggery in new earthen pots. Women then decorate the pots with turmeric, Vermillion and neem leaves. Then, the women lit a lamp on the top of the pot. Women then carry these pots on their heads and offer them to Goddess Yellemma. Along with that, women carry bangles and sari.
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Origin of the Festival
The origin of the festival traces back to the 18th Century. When a plague broke out in twin cities Hyderabad and Secunderabad in 1983, it took many lives. A military battalion was positioned at Ujjain just before the pandemic. When they heard about this plague, they prayed to Goddess Yellamma for the plague to stop. They prayed to the Goddess, and if she fulfilled their wish, they would build a temple in her honour. This is how Bonalu started.
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Rituals of Bonalu Festival
- Women dress up in traditional Sari and wear jewellery and other accessories during the occasion. Teen girls wear half-sari or lehengas and adorn themselves with jewellery. Some women dance to the beats of the drums while balancing a pot on their heads.
- Celebrations begin at the Golconda Fort on the first Sunday of Aashadam (July/August). The festivities continue at Balkampet, Yellamma temple in Balkampet and Ujjaini Mahakali Temple in Secunderabad during the second Sunday of Aashadam. During the third Sunday, the Bonalu festival celebrations continue at Pochamma and Katta Maisamma Temple near Chikalguda and the Matheswari temple of Lal Darwaza situated in Old Hyderabad.
- As a part of the ritual, some women carry Bonalu to offer to the Goddess. A common belief is that the spirit of Goddess Kali possesses women who carry this Bonalu. People sprinkle water on the feet of these women to calm the spirit of Goddess Kali, who devotees believe to be aggressive. As a token of respect, devotees offer Thottelus. Tholettus are small paper-like structures that are supported by sticks.
Other Important Parts of Bonalu festival
Pothuraju is the brother of Goddess Yellamma. A well-built and bare-bodied man represents him. He wears bells near his ankles and a tightly draped dhoti. Along with that, he applies vermillion on his forehead and turmeric to the rest of his body. He remains close to the Paharam Bandi, which is the procession.
People celebrate Rangam the morning after Bonalu. Also known as Performing the Oracle, this custom includes a woman who invokes Goddess Mahakali in herself. This woman foretells the following year’s future for devotees who ask for such information.
Devotees offer a grand offering to Goddess Mahakali during Bonalu. After that, family members share the offering among themselves. A non-vegetarian family meal is a part of the feast of Bonalu festival. People slaughter a goat or rooster to offer Goddess Mahakali, and Toddy workers also offer toddy to the Mother Goddess.
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Frequently Asked Questions on Bonalu Festival
Who carries the Ghatam in Bonalu?
A priest carries the Ghatam in Bonalu.
Name a festival that people celebrate in Telangana other than Bonalu.
Other than Bonalu, Telangana celebrates Dussehra.
Name the forms of Goddess Kali that people worship during Bonalu.
People worship mother Kali’s forms like Pochamma and Peddamma during Bonalu.