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

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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.

SADDULA BATHUKAMMA

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

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