CSIS

Centre for South Indian Studies

Bathukamma The Unique Flower Festival of Telangana

Note: Both online and offline sources are the basis of compilation of this Story on Bathukamma Festival-Ed)

The main celebrations will be held this year on October 3, which will be celebrated as Saddula Bathukamma. Bathukamma is celebrated for nine days during Durga Navratri. It starts on the day of Mahalaya Amavasya and the 9-day festivities will culminate on “Saddula Bathukamma” or “Pedda Bathukamma” festival, Bathukamma is followed by Boddemma, which is a 7-day festival. Bathukamma is a colourful and vibrant festival of Telangana and celebrated by women, with flowers that grow exclusively in each region. This festival is a symbol of Telangana’s cultural identity. Bathukamma comes during the latter half of monsoon, before the onset of winter.

 

Saddula Bathukamma celebrations should be organised in all the district headquarters, the Chief Secretary instructed (Ref: Make arrangements for Bathukamma festival, CS instructs officials: https://www.thehindu.com). The following is schedule:

  • Day 1: Engili pula Bathukamma
  • Day 2: Attukula Bathukamma
  • Day 3: Muddappappu Bathukamma
  • Day 4: Nanabiyyam Bathukamma
  • Day 5: Atla Bathukamma
  • Day 6: Aligina Bathukamma (alaka Bathukamma)
  • Day 7: Vepakayala Bathukamma
  • Day 8: Vennae muddala Bathukamma
  • Day 9: Sadhula Bathukamma

 

This festival is celebrated for nine days and concludes on Durgastami. The last day of the festival is called Saddula Bathukamma. On this final day immersion of Bathukamma (Bathukamma Visarjan) in water bodies is celebrated with utmost devotion and enthusiasm with rhythmic drum beats throughout Telangana. The evening offers a beautiful, calming and a peaceful visual treat. Gauramma (a symbolic idol of Gowri made of turmeric) is taken back from Bathukamma before immersion and every married woman applies a paste of this, on her Mangala sutra that marks the solemnization of her marriage and also her husband is protected from all evils and ill fate.

Why Bathukamma is celebrated-?

To put it simply, Bathukamma =Life of most women who are celebrating it in Telangana and in few parts of AP, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, etc…. It reflects the history of women in those regions for over centuries in leading a nature friendly life and resisting the oppression from various dimensions. Bathukamma and Bonalu are declared officially as the State festivals of Telangana soon after the formation of State. They have been part of Telangana Tradition and Culture for more than 1000 years and the People of Telangana celebrate Bathukamma particularly with all pomp and gaiety though its origin has remained unknown and large number of theories are in circulation. One thing is certain- it is a festival dedicated to Goddess Parvathi or Adi Para Shakthi which commences 2 days before Navaratri and continues till Durga Ashtami. Flower decoration is central to the festival.

 

According to Historians, the flower festival from time to time got transformed and acquired novelty. It was not initially Popular in the districts of Khammam, Adilabad and Mahaboob Nagar. Bathukamma was held where there was wide prevalence of Tank Irrigation System and some sort of Paying back to the Goddess for her benevolence and mercy for bountiful Agri- produce.

Bathukamma, that means ‘Mother Goddess come Alive’, is celebrated towards the end of monsoon and heralds the abundance that nature has to offer. The monsoon rains usually bring plenty of water into the ponds, tanks of Telangana and it is also the time when wild flowers bloom in various vibrant colours across the uncultivated and barren plains of the region. The most abundant of these flowers are ‘gunuka’ (or ‘gunugu’) and ‘tangedu’. There are other flowers like the ‘banti’, ‘chamanti’, ‘nandi-vardhanam’ etc.

 

Bathukamma is a celebration of the inherent relationship human beings share with earth and water. During the entire preceding week, women make ‘boddemma’ (a deity of Gowri ‘mother Durga’ made with earthly mud) along with Bathukamma and immerse it in the pond. This helps reinforce the ponds and helps it retain more water.Bathukamma, a part of Dasara festivities, is unique to Telangana. This colourful festival has historic, ecological, societal and religious significance. Women clad in glittering costumes and jewellery carry beautifully stacked Bathukammas with flowers like Tangedu, Gunugu, Chamanti and others to the village or street’s meeting point.Making circles around the assembled Bathukammas, womenfolk recite songs in a group. The songs have their roots in Puranas, History and even in the recent political and social developments of the particular region. The fete culminates in Saddula Bathukamma where the villagers immerse the flower stacks in the nearby tanks and lakes (Ref: Bathukamma – 2017: https://www.telangana.gov.in)

 

The festival begins on the day of Mahalaya Amavasya, and is celebrated with much fanfare for nine days. Bathukamma means “Goddess of Life’ and is celebrated during Dussehra. Women decorate a special pot with seasonal flowers, fill the pot with offerings to the goddess, go in a procession, and later immerse the pot in a local pond. Historically, bathukamma meant “festival of life” and was celebrated to thank Goddess Parvati for her blessings for the crop harvest and income she helped generate this (current) year and again ask her blessing for the next year (Ref: About Bathukamma: https://bathukamma.telangana.gov.in)

There are four interesting stories behind celebration of Batukamma Festival: (Most of the websites mention these Stories-Ed.)

Story 1:

Centuries ago, king Dharmangada and his wife Satyavati had 100 sons. All these sons were killed in a war. After the death of these sons the couple have no children for a long time. So they started doing” thapas” (prayer for many years) for goddess Lakshmi. Goddess Lakshmi appeared before them and asked for a boon. Then this couple asked that Goddess Lakshmi should be born as their daughter. Since she is Goddess, she would be eternal.

After Lakshmi was born to the couple, they named her ‘Bathukamma’ (live O’child). During Baby Lakshmi’s bringing up she survived many unforeseen accidents and incidents in life. She was fond of flowers. So, on Bathukamma festival girl and women worship goddess Bathukamma with flowers which have medicinal values.

Story 2:

Goddess Gauri, after a fierce fight killed ‘Mahishasura’ the demon. After this serious act, she went into deep sleep due to fatigue on the ‘Aswayuja Padyami’ day. All the Hindu religious devotees strongly prayed with devotion and dedication for her to wake up using medicinal flowers. She woke up on the Dashami day.

Story3:

Daksh performed yagna and invited everybody except his own daughter Gauri, who married Shiva against his will. Even without invitation Gauri attended the yagna and was insulted by her father. Unable to take the insult Gauri set fire to herself. Then all the sages and Muni’s prayed to Goddess Gauri “Bathukamma (O, Goddess come alive)” and worshipped her with medicinal flowers.

Story4:

This is not a mythological story but rather historical (though there is no written proof for this story). In the time Nizams, one particular Nizam would fetch any beautiful girl in his kingdom to his place and rape her. There was one beautiful girl (name not known) in his kingdom. He wanted her to be brought to his place. She was very sweet and helpful girl. To help her, ladies of that town took her to a temple and hid her behind the idol. The Nizam’s people could not find her and returned back. The next day when the ladies went to the temple, all they could see behind the temple were a heap of flowers. They shouted to the flowers Bathukamma (please come alive).

Decoration of Bathukamma:

Brothers bring flowers to mother and sisters to do Bathukamma.The flowers used for making Bathukamma are all medicinal flowers which are all wild grown abundantly in nature:

  • Bottom Layer: తంగేడు పూలు(thangedu poolu means Cassia or Senna flowers) which are white or yellow in colour.
  • Second Layer: గునుగు పూలు(gunugu poolu means celosia argentea).
  • Third Layer: సీతమ్మ జడ పూలు(Seetamma jada poolu means Cockscomb flower)
  • Fourth Layer: శంఖు పూలు(Shankhu poolu means-Clitoria ternatea)
  • Fifth Layer: టేకు పూలు(Teku poolu means teak flowers)
  • Sixth Layer: గుమ్మడి పూలు/మందార పూలు(Gummadi poolu or Mandara poolu means Pumpkin flowers or Hibiscus flowers)
  • And final Layer with only one Lotus flower-తామర పువ్వు.

Sources:

  • http://www.telangana.org/Bathukamma/Bathukamma_BayArea.htm
  • “Bathukamma festival begins in Telangana: All you need to know”. India Today
  • Bathukamma Official site
  • BATHUKAMMA – THE FLOWERS FESTIVAL OF TELANGANA –http://eptrienvis.nic.in
  • Telangana’s Bathukamma: When the goddess returns as flowers: https://www.thenewsminute.com
  • Ministry of Culture organises Bathukamma festival celebrations at India Gate: https://theprint.in
  • Bathukamma: A Unique Nine Day Festival Of Life & Flowers In Telangana | All You Need To Know: https://www.india.com
  • Bathukamma: Saying It With Flowers: https://www.outlookindia.com
  • Bathukamma- Dr. M. Radha Krishna Murthy-Telugu University

 


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