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Bathukamma to celebrate T identity సెప్టెంబర్ 22, 2014

Posted by Telangana Utsav in Essays.
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The festival gets a sarkari stamp of approval, as Hyderabadis cheer with flowers

Serish Nanisetti

bathukamma
Bathukamma bathukamma vuyyalo…
Bangaru bathukamma vuyyalo…
Paadi pantalaku vuyyalo..
Challanga choodamma vuyyalo..

This song and a dozen others will echo through the streets of Hyderabad and other places in Telangana as Bathukamma, a festival of young girls and married women, gets a spiffy new spin under the new Telangana government. An exhibition of photos celebrating Bathukamma, a permanent installation of flower arrangement at Shilpakala Vedika, women employees allowed to go home by 2 pm everyday till October 2 and a `10 crore grant for celebrating the festival -the government of Telangana is pulling out all stops to elevate the festival into a religio-cultural identity for the new-born state.

“When I moved to this gated community 10 years back, I would be invited to various people’s houses for celebrating Bathukamma, but people felt shy of bringing it into open and observing it in a big way . Now, I think they will not think twice before celebrating Bathukamma in the open, the way it is meant to be celebrated. This change is good,“ says artist Anjani Reddy , who cannot hide her delight about the festival getting its due. “ As a child, I would go back to Nandikandi and see flowers brought home on a bullock cart, the colours, smells and the way the flowers were arranged on a huge brass plate played a key part in developing my artistic sensibility ,“ says Anjani.

Others meanwhile see it as an opportunity for “cultural revival“. “I think the government sees the festival as an opportunity for a cultural revival and to impress its identity . By declaring it a state festival, there is going to be a large scale mobilisation of school and college students, women, SHGs and even working women,“ says WG Prasanna Kumar of National Green Corps. “It has always been a festival close to my heart right from the time I was a child in Nalgonda. We would get up in the morning, have a head bath and we would welcome Gowramma to our homes with an arrangement of various flowers. The tradition continues in our apartment at Attapur where we celebrate it for eight days. On a plate, we put some leaves and arrange different kinds of flowers and on the first day we offer pongali as prasadam,“ says Rangaraju Andalu, a housewife.

“Every year, Bathukamma is celebrated from Mahalaya Amavasya for eight days till Mahanavami, people worship Mangalagouri. Everyday , they prepare different kinds of offerings for the Goddess and these are called saddulu. On the last day , called Saddula Bathukamma, all the nine kinds of offerings are made to the Goddess. One day before Dasara, the arranged flowers and a lamp are released into nearby water bodies by the women, all the while singing songs,“ informs Swati Gupta about the festival that coincides with Navaratri.

“Flowers are the main offerings for the festival where thangedi, beera, gummadi, chamanthi and others are used to prepare Bathukamma,“ she informs.

This year, women volunteers who know swimming are being trained by National Green Corps as a safety backup during the festival where women release lighted lamps into lakes. “They will manage the crowd and also keep track of the quantum of flowers being released into the lakes,“ says Prasanna Kumar. Also, there will be 25,000 Bathukammas arranged at the LB Stadium and they will be taken in a procession to the Necklace Road for releasing them on Saddalu Bathukamma at Tank Bund.

But Hyderabad will see one permanent change, as the Necklace Road will be renamed Bathukamma Square, according to sources in the government.

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