Bathukamma: Telangana’s CULTURAL NICHE
Bathukamma is a nineday festival celebrated across Telangana, where colourful stacks of flowers are arranged in seven rows on a brass plate, symbolising Goddess Gauri, the life giver. This festival coincides with Navratri and Durga Puja
As per the Shalivahana calendar, Hindu women of Telangana celebrate Bathukamma, a floral festival, for nine consecutive days, starting from Bhadrapada Amavasya (Mahalaya Amavasya), till Durgashthami. The festival runs parallel to the Durga Puja and Navratri celebrations across other parts of India, during the time of endseptember and early-october.
Bathukamma is a beautiful stack of flowers, including various seasonal flowers with medicinal values, arranged in seven consecutive layers in the shape of a Gopuram (ornate monumental tower, at the entrance of any temple in southern Indian states). Bathukamma in Telugu means ‘Mother goddess come alive’. Goddess Gauri, the life giver, is worshipped as the flower stack, which represents the goddess. This vibrant and colourful festival is also celebrated in parts of Andhra Pradesh. With the monsoon rains bringing in enough water into the fresh ponds of the state, the place boasts of colourful flowers in full bloom. Even the uncultivated and usually barren lands bloom with wild flowers during this time of the year. The most commonly available flowers are gunuku poolu and tangedu poolu, while others like chemanti, banti, and nandi-vasdhanam can also be seen in abundance. This festival is primarily celebrated by unmarried girls who have attained their marriageable age. Even though, the festival majorly belongs to the
women folk of the Telangana region, men and children participate in this festivity with vigour and enthusiasm.
It is a festival meant for feminine felicitation, and women dress up for the occasion in traditional sarees, accessorising it with chosen jewellery. Teenage girls deck themselves up in langa-oni, or half-sarees accompanied with jewellery. The celebration heralds the beauty of nature in vibrant colours of the multitudinous flowers. Married women usually get back to their parents’ home during the festival to enjoy some freedom from their mundane, everyday married chores. For a week, women make small Bathukammas and encircle them while singing different traditional songs; later, they immerse these creations, during evening, in the nearby ponds. Women seek good health, prosperity and happiness for their families, while the songs are to invoke the blessings of various goddesses.
On the last day of the festival, that is two days before Dussehra, the men of the families go out into the wild to gather a bagful of flowers like tangedi and gunuka. The entire household sits down to arrange these collected flowers to create a large Bathukamma. The base of the Bathukamma is a brass plate called the taambalam, upon which rows of flowers are set carefully to create a marvellous piece of vibrancy. There is a format which is followed while creating the Bathukamma, flowers of alternate colours, or contrasting colours are lined in rows one after the other. If the first row is white, the one on top of it would be red, then