Bonalu Festival

Goddess at Secunderabad’s Ujjaini Mahakali Temple

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.

Devotees waiting in a queue to offer bonalu to the goddess

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.

A Devotee carrying earthen pots

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.

Ms.Swaroopa Rani telling the future

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.

13 thoughts on “Bonalu Festival

  1. Sari…I am missing this festival so much….

    Thank you for writing about it…did u take bonalu and go to a temple ??? Hyd will be looking totally festive, na ???? 🙂

    1. Bonalu and Bathukamma puja were totally new to me when I came to Hyderabad 🙂
      The temple on tankbund road near the Ramakrishna Math, we can see that the place is sooo crowded there during the festival. And as u say, loudspeakers hum along all day long 🙂 Was nice reading thru all details of the festival Sari 🙂 Thank u 🙂

      There bonalu is next sunday i think.Ya that road is quite narrow and that too one fly over has come there no.Its been ages i didn’t go there,before i used to use that road every day for my work.

  2. Very interesting, Saritha. In Tamilnadu too, aadi maasam is famous for doing different types of rituals to goddesses. All amman temples are crowded, esp. on Fridays. Puththukku paal uththaradu (offering milk to our snake gods near their mounds), pongal padaikkaradu (pongal is done with rice and jaggery), koozh ooththaradu (this is done with raagi and jaggery or just salt). Loud speakers can be seen everywhere with loud music…this continues till the end of aavani maasam (Sept.15th). They do sacrifices too in some temples, we avoid visiting such temples.

    Here sacrifices are banned by state govt
    I remember going to ‘Annamma devi’ temple during this time, when I was in Bengaluru. We just go to the temples, like you.

    Your daughters will enjoy now, since they have grown up to understand these things.

    Both like to go to temples.

  3. hi guys.!

    can any one please send me complete details about bonalu festival. its damm urgent.. plz help me out…!!! 🙂

    Waiting for ur swift reverts


  4. Bonalu – Nenu vinapadindhe ledhe? Even though my mother tongue is Telugu, I have always lived in TN. Maybe because of that, I might have not heard of this festival! Or wait – there might be one more thing. The Andhra and Telangana. Maybe my ancestors belonged to Andhra and hence I am not familiar with this! Ok, lets not bring politics in blog 🙂

    Even my ancestors are from andhra and still have my relatives in andhra,because i am born and brought up in hyd i know about this festival and husband is proper telangana.

    Actually, till before about a year, I thought Andhra was above and Telangana was below!! So much for my general knowledge 😛

    We never used to talk telangana and andhra until my mom started searching boy for my marriage and she never preferred andhra guy over telangana but people used to ask her if we are andhra or telangana.
    Destination Infinity

  5. nice blog. I was wondering if you would like to contribute articles on telangana on my blogsite?
    you ok if link your blog on my site?

    Harish singh

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