REMEMBERING QUEEN

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yel­low, then white, then pink and so on.

That evening, wom­en­folk match up their ap­pear­ance to that of their Bathukam­mas, wear­ing their best tra­di­tional at­tire and or­nate jew­ellery, they place the flower stack in their court­yard. More women from the neigh­bour­hood join in and they all cir­cle the Bathukamma singing songs while build­ing a beau­ti­ful hu­man cir­cle of unity, love and sis­ter­hood. Be­fore dusk falls, the ladies carry their Bathukam­mas on their heads and move in a pro­ces­sion to­wards the big­ger wa­ter bod­ies in their re­spec­tive towns. The pro­ces­sion with its vi­brancy and colours is ap­peal­ing to sight; while the rhythm of folk songs sung in cho­rus by the women in the pro­ces­sion, com­pel the body to sway in tan­dem. On reach­ing the larger wa­ter bod­ies, they grad­u­ally im­merse the Bathukam­mas. Af­ter the im­mer­sion cer­e­mony, women share a dessert made of corn bread and sugar called

Maleeda among fam­ily mem­bers and neigh­bours. Af­ter the en­tire cer­e­mony is over, the women re­turn home with the empty taam­balam while singing in the praise of Bathukamma.

ECO-FRIEND­LI­NESS OF THE FES­TI­VAL

Dur­ing the en­tire pre­ced­ing week, women make bod­demma, a de­ity of Gowri or Devi Durga with mud along with the Bathukamma and im­merse it in the nearby ponds. This helps re­in­force the ponds as­sist­ing them in re­tain­ing more wa­ter. The flow­ers used in Bathukamma have a great qual­ity of pu­ri­fy­ing the wa­ter in ponds and tanks as the flow­ers im­mersed in abun­dance are en­vi­ron­men­tally com­pat­i­ble.

In to­day’s times, when the fresh wa­ter ponds are grad­u­ally dwin­dling away, it is in­deed a mat­ter of pride for Te­lan­gana that its wom­en­folk are in­her­ently equipped to re­ju­ve­nate them by cel­e­brat­ing the fes­ti­val of flow­ers. The fes­ti­val her­alds the

beauty of na­ture, the in­domitable spirit of wom­en­folk and also the eco­log­i­cal spirit of the agrar­ian peo­ple in pre­serv­ing the nat­u­ral re­sources through festivity.

HIS­TORY

Once upon a time, there was a king Dhar­man­gada who be­longed to the Chola dy­nasty and ruled over large parts of South In­dia. He had lost his hun­dred sons in the war front, his wife and he then prayed and per­formed rit­u­als for God­dess Lak­shmi to be born as their daugh­ter. His wife even­tu­ally gave birth to a girl child af­ter many years of rit­u­als and prayer; she was named Princess Lak­shmi.

Lak­shmi sur­vived many un­fore­seen ac­ci­dents dur­ing her up­bring­ing, which har­rowed her par­ents about their only child. Later, they re­named their daugh­ter as Bathukamma. Ac­cord­ing to the Tel­ugu lan­guage, Bathuku means life and Amma means mother.

Based on this myth­i­cal telling, the Bathukamma fes­ti­val has been grandly cel­e­brated by young girls across Te­lan­gana. The main pur­pose of this par­tic­u­lar fes­ti­val is to pray with ut­most de­vo­tion to the God­dess, with a strong be­lief that all young girls would be blessed with beloved hus­bands as per their de­sire soon.

MYTHS ABOUT THE FES­TI­VAL

The Bathukamma fes­ti­val has many myths sur­round­ing its festivity. Ac­cord­ing to the Hindu re­li­gious schol­ars and pun­dits, one myth says that, af­ter a fierce fight God­dess Gauri an­ni­hi­lated ‘Mahisha­sura’ the de­mon and 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, and then she rose on the day of Dasami.

An­other telling says that Par­vathi or Batakamma is an ad­her­ent lover of flow­ers. The sea­sonal flow­ers of spring are ar­ranged on a square bam­boo frame or square wooden plank with the size of frames that is hardly ta­per­ing off to di­rectly form a pin­na­cle on the top. It re­sem­bles the shape of a tem­ple tower or Gop­u­ram. On top of the flow­ers, a lump of turmeric is placed. The wor­ship of God­dess Batakamma is pre­pared with this lit­tle flo­ral moun­tain.

This fes­ti­val is cel­e­brated with great joy and vi­vac­ity. Dur­ing these cel­e­bra­tions, there are dance per­for­mances, mu­sic, dra­mas and a va­ri­ety of en­ter­tain­ment as thou­sands of tourists and lo­cals flock to wit­ness the oc­cur­rings. Jataras are also held dur­ing this month long cel­e­bra­tions to re­vere the God­dess.

Women make ‘bod­demma’, a de­ity of Gowri or Devi Durga with mud along with Bathukamma and im­merse it in the pond. This helps re­in­force the ponds and help them in re­tain­ing more wa­ter. The flow­ers used have a great qual­ity of pu­ri­fy­ing wa­ter in ponds

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