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Ashada Bonalu Festival History

Hello, visitor’s thanks for landing on this page, now you are going to know the brief explanation of Ashada Bonalu Festival History in the English language.

Bonalu is an important and also much popular festival celebrated in Hyderabad, Secunderabad & of Telangana State.
Bonalu is a Hindu Festival where Goddess Mahakali is worshiped. It is an annual festival celebrated in the twin Cities Hyderabad and Secunderabad and other parts of Telangana state, India.

The festival is celebrated in the month of Ashada which appears in (July -August) month accordingly of Hindu calendar.

Important Note: After the Telangana state formed on June 2nd, 2014, the government of Telangana declared the bonalu festival & Bathukamma festival as a State Festival with providing a state holiday.

The decision to make the two important festivals of Telangana as the state festivals was taken under the leadership of Mr Kalvakuntla.
Bonalu is celebrated usually during Ashada Masam that falls in July/August. Special poojas are performed for goddess Yellamma during the first and last day of the festival. The festival is considered as a form of thanksgiving to the Goddess after the fulfillment of vows. Bonam literally means Meal in Telugu, which is an offering to the Mother Goddess. Women folk in household prepare rice that is cooked along with Milk, Jaggery in a New Earthen or Brass Pot, which is adorned with Neem Leaves, Turmeric and Vermilion. Women carry these pots on their heads and make an offering of Bonam, including Bangles and Saree to the Mother Goddess at Temples. Bonalu involves worship of Kali in her various forms such Mysamma, Pochamma, Yellamma, Dokkalamma, Pedamma, Poleramma, Ankalamma, Maremma, Nookalamma etc.

Chandra Shekar Rao, who is the first chief minister of the 29th state of India.

Now, coming to the festival, Bonalu in the Telugu language means ‘food’ and is a ritual in honour of Mother Goddess i.e. Mahankali, Shakti. During this Bonalu festival, women in large numbers offer food to the Goddess Mahankali.

The festival begins at Golconda, Women who carry Bonalu are believed to possessing the spirit of Mother Goddess, and when they approach temple, people sprinkle water on their feet in order to pacify the spirit, which is believed to be aggressive. Devotees offer Thottelu. These are small, colorful paper structures, which are supported by sticks and offered as a token of respect.

Bonalu Jatara which lasts for a month also involves colourful processions and community feasts in the Twin cities. The month-long festival consists of various rituals like ‘Rangam’- forecasting the future, and the procession of mother goddess atop an elephant and the ‘Ghatalu’ procession.
Pothuraju, considered the brother of Mother Goddess, is represented by a bare-bodied and well-built man, who wears a small tightly draped red dhoti and bells near ankles, and applies turmeric on his body, including vermilion on his forehead. Pothuraju dances to the resounding drums and dances close to Palaharam Bandi, the procession.

The Bonalu Festival History & Complete Process:

The festival is celebrated across Hyderabad in all of the 14 temples, part of the Old city. The first main festival is held on the first Sunday of the Ashada month at the Sri Jagadamba temple in Golconda Fort, the next main festival on the second Sunday at the Ujjain Mahankali Temple in Secunderabad and the third main festival on the third Sunday at the Matheswari Temple of Laldarwaja.

Bonalu is a festival where there is a divine offering to Mother Goddess and families also share these offerings with other family members and guests.

These rituals are also performed for other shrines of Goddess Shakti in the twin cities.

Telangana Bonalu Pot

Food Offering to Goddess Mahankali:

The festival involves offering food of her choice to Mahankali. The offerings made to the Goddess consist of cooked rice, curd, jaggery, water and other dishes that are brought in the form of pots to the Goddesses temples.

Women dress up in the traditional Sari along with jewels and other accessories during the occasion. Teenage Girls adorn Half-Sarees along with jewels to reflect the traditional grace of the attire. Some women face a spell of trace where they dance with the balancing pots to the rhythmic beats made by drums in honor of the Goddess.

The earthen pots are decorated with white, yellow and red natural colours. The majority of the women carry the pots on their head and it is believed that the women get possessed by the spirit of Mother Goddess Mahankali. The offering of cooked rice, jaggery and curd in a pot is known as ‘bonam’ and is covered with neem leaves and a lamp is placed on top of it.

Mahankali Goddess Photos

Pothuraju Dance Special Attraction of Festival:

The important part of these processions is the Potharaju. He is the brother of Mother Goddess, is represented in the procession by a well-built, bare-bodied man, wearing a small tightly draped red dhoti and bells on his ankles, and anointed with turmeric on his body and vermilion on his forehead. While on the way to the temple, the Thottela takes the lead and dances along, on the path with the trance ladies following him. Trumpets and drums give the beats to the dance and add to the festive feel.

Pothuraju at Bonalu

Rangam, or the Performing the Oracle, is held after the next morning of the actual festival. A Woman invokes goddess Mahankaali onto herself and performs this custom. She foretells the next year ahead when devotees ask for information about future.

Ghatam implies a copper pot, which is decorated in the form of the mother goddess and carried by a priest, adorning a traditional dhoti and his body completely smeared in turmeric.

The festival history reportedly started in 1813 in the region of Hyderabad & Secunderabad when plague disease had broken out in Twin Cities that had claimed thousands of lives. A military battalion from Hyderabad was then deployed to Ujjain and concerned about the plague menace in Hyderabad the military battalion offered prayers to Mother Goddess at Mahankaali Temple in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh, that if people get relived from the epidemic they would be installing the idol of Mahankaali back in Secunderabad. It is believed by devotees that Mahankaali halted the spread of the disease while the Military Battalion came back here & installed an idol by offering Bonalu to Mother Mahankaali.

The Ghatam is taken as a procession from the first day of the festival to the last day, when it is immersed in water. The Ghatam accompanies drums.

mother goddess Mahankali

Usually, Ghatam of Akkanna Madanna Temple in Haribowli actually leads the procession, placed on an elephant in turn accompanied by mounted horses and models, which depict Akkanna and Madanna. It ends as a glittering procession in the evening after immersion of Ghatams at Nayapul. Ghatams from other popular temples of Mahakali in twin cities congregate here.

Bonalu is celebrated across various parts of the city. During the first Sunday of Aashaadam, celebrations begin at Golconda Fort followed by Ujjaini Mahakali Temple in Secunderabad and Balkampet Yellamma temple in Balkampet on second Sunday, and the third Sunday, at the Pochamma and Katta maisamma temple near Chilkalguda and the Matheswari temple of Lal Darwaza in Old City of Hyderabad. Other temples such as Akkanna Madanna temple in Haribowli, Muthyalamma temple in Shah Ali Banda are the popular venues where Bonalu is celebrated. Lakhs of devotees throng the temples to pay obeisance to Mahankaali.

Origin of Bonalu in Telangana:

The history of the origin of this bonalu festival traces back to the 19th Century and is linked with the “Regimental Bazaar” and the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad.

In the year 1813, plague disease broke out in the twin cities, and this took away the lives of thousands of people and the Plague was catching on dangerously with the masses. Then originated the belief that the Plague was a curse by the Mother Goddess- Mahankali and she were angered at the locals.

Just before this, a military battalion from Hyderabad was deployed to Ujjain. When this Hyderabadian 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 the plague, and if the Goddess would do so, they had decided to install and idol of Goddess Mahankali 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 & 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. People started offering their prayers and food (Bhojanalu- Bonalu) to please the goddess so she would rid them of the disease.

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 Masam 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.

Other names of goddess:

Goddess Shakti is revered and worshipped as Mahakali or Mahankali in this region and is also popularly known as Pochamma, Yellamma, Peddamma, Renuka Amma, Mysamma, Ankalamma, Poleramma, and Maramma.

Finally, we provided the complete history of Bonalu Festival or Bonalu Jathara in English. The Jatara Starts with Golconda Bonalu Jathara to Ujjaini Mahankali Temple, Balkampet Yellamma Temple and ends with Akkanna Madanna Bonala Jathara.

Watch special episode on Making & history of bonalu.
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