Bonalu is celebrated every year during ashadam in Secunderabad, Hyderabad and telangana regions of Andhra pradesh.This festival is also known as bonalu jatara which starts at Sri Jagadambika temple at golconda fort followed by Secunderabad Ujjani mahakali temple followed by shali banda kashi viswanath mandir then followed by mahakali temple amberpet and lastly at akkana madanna temple in lal darwaja.
The opening of the bonalu festival is marked with the Kalasha sthapana at the temple site. The Kalasa Stapana servers as indication to the devotees for commencement of the celebration of the festival. The Bonalu festival is mainly celebrated by women.
A typical feature of the Bonalu festival is the ritual preparation of ‘ghatams’ a set of three pots of varied sizes. These are decorated by using turmeric powder, Kumkum, and white colors. Various designs such as om and swastik symbols, rangolis are drawn on the pots and neem leaves are tied around the pots.
Bonalu is short form of bojanlu means meals,it is a ritual offering of meals to goddess mahakali.Women are dressed in pathu sarees and carry pots on their head.The offering meal consists of typical south indian meal of rice,curd,jaggery and water.Usually there are three pots which are carried on top of the other,first been the bigger which has rice and curd followed by two small pots.One small pot has curd and jaggery and the smallest pot has water in it.On the lid of the last pot oil is poured and a lamp is lit in it.
The devotees carry bonam pots on their head and they balance it so well.They make movements with their hands while dancing and carry neem leaves in their hands.The bonam is offered to the goddess and the balance is taken as prasad among the family members of the devotee.
The festival would conclude on the next day that is on monday with the prediction called ‘Rangam’. During the Rangam, a devoted woman enters into trance (Shigam) standing on a wet urn and loudly announces future predictions.People believe that, Goddess Kali enters into the body of the women to make her devotees cautious about their future.Usually a goat is also scarified here but it has been stopped since long.
The Bonalu festival comes to an end with massive procession, where the Potharaju and many devotees take an idol of Goddess Mahakali atop a elephant around the streets, to enable the devotees to receive the blessings of mother mahakali.Potharaju is the brother of hindu goddess Mahankali, considered the initiator of the festivities.He wears knickers with bells stitched all over it. Bells are also strung to his ankles and he wears a garland. The Potaraju carries a whip called the kola in his hand. He lashes it against his body keeping in tune with the rhythm of the beating of the drums.
The theen mar songs are played in this festival which are very famous for the beats.The ‘masti’ number has almost become an icon of Bonalu festival.One can hear these songs on the loud speakers which are kept in each and every street near the temple.
All schools and college are closed on the day of procession.
Picture source:Google images.