Tuesday, October 20, 2015


Bathukamma, Telangana's nine-day festival, stands apart on many levels in the lexicon of Hindu festivals. From being a one-of-its kind celebration of women to a thanksgiving to Mother Nature, this floral festival goes beyond mythology and socio-economic barriers to celebrate life in its fullness
Among the myriad festititude vals of India that revolve around the mul of Hindu deities, Telangana's state festival -Bathukamma stands out as a celebration of life and more specifically women. This nineday festival is all about transcending the hardships of everyday life, class disparities, gender bias and experiencing the bliss of here and now -life or `Bathuku', in Telugu. This festival, characteristic of Telangana, celebrates life at two levels -women and nature as life-giving and life-sustaining forces. Each ritual involved during the festivities embodies the cultural, economic and philosophical soul of Telangana and its people.
In the myths that abound alluding to the origin of the festival, the narratives change but the central philosophy of `Bathukamma' is the same -`coming back to life' or `long live the girl child'.
In one popular myth, after Goddess Gauri slayed the demon `Mahishasura', the tired Goddess goes to sleep. Her devotees pray to wake her up, she awakes or comes to live on the Dasami. In another account, Bathukamma is the blessing of Goddess Lakshmi, who is born to the Chola king Dharmangada and queen Satyavati after they lose hundred sons in battle. Since the girl child was blessed with a long life, she took the name `Bathukamma'.
Interestingly , these myths take a different shade when it comes to the tribal or folk literature, explains Telangana writer Nandhini Sidda Reddy , who dubs Bathukamma as a Janapada tradition involving `janas' or `people'. “In a story with a social dimension, there was a girl who was pampered and loved a lot by her family , much to the envy of her sister-in-law. In a turn of events, the sister-in-law kills the girl and tells the family that she has returned to in-laws. But a Tangedu plant which grew over the girl's buried body calls out to her brother and explains what happens. When the bereaved family asks her how they can make it up to her, she tells them to celebrate a festival in her name, Bathukamma, in her memory when women will be celebrated,“ he narrates, adding that dimension of values that insists that girl children are taken care off well.
There is another tale that involves a sacrifice in a village that is under the fury of a flood.“In one version, the king sacrifices his daughter while in another a girl volunteers to stop the breakage in the holding structures with her life. “Since she gave life, or `Bathuku', for the village, Bathukamma is celebrated in her memory ,“ he adds.
Bathukamma is celebrated dur ing Bhadrapada Amavasya, also known as Mahalaya Amavasya, which is the time of the year when married women visit their parents, taking a break from their domestic responsibilities, to relive childhood memories.For artist and a native of Telangana, Avani Rao Gandra, the very aesthetics of the festival encapsulate the earthy traditions and culture of the region. “The rituals of the festival showcase the spirit of Telangana. When women gather at the temple or a courtyard, there is the fragrance of the flowers and incense. Then begins the songs and dance around relatable stories of women folk.We would dance all night sometimes. It is such a trancendental experience!“ recalls Avani.
The tower of flowers comprises Tangedu (Senna Cassia), Gunugu (Celosia Argentia), Banthi (Tagetes Errecta), Beera (Luffa), Aster (Calendula) and Katla (Ipomea). Each flower of a different colour signifies a differ ent aspiration in life. While the Tangedu flower, which is yellow signifies prosperity, the white Gunugu flowers are symbolic of purity.
The tower or shikaram is anoth er metaphor for progress.

No comments:

Post a Comment