Bathukamma festival, a popular celebration in Telangana is here. The festival is celebrated for nine days, with women brightening up their houses and streets to participate in the festival of flowers, starting today.
Two days before the Dussehra festival, the Bathukamma jatara which commences the celebrations is organized where the two festivities are observed together.
Carrying plates of flowers with different colours and species, women clad in the beautiful traditional silk sarees, decorate a small wooden platform with them in a circular arrangement with layers to make a conical arrangement of the flowers.
The arrangement signifies the mother goddess and is called the Bathukamma. They head to the nearby temples or steets to celebrate Bathukamma. In the evening rituals, they gather around in a circle and place their ‘Bathukammas’ in the center as they dance around rythmically with traditional songs about urging the goddess to take birth again and clapping in unison.
Flowers available during the season include Luffa (Bera), Cassia (Thangedu), Nelumbo (Thamara), Celosia (Gunugu), Marigold (Banthi), Cucurbita (Gummadi), Crossandra (Kanakambaram), Hibiscus (Mandhara) and Ixora (Ramabanam).
The festival rituals last for nine days during the Durga Navaratri celebrations proceeding Dasara.
The Godess is worshipped for the nine days and on the tenth day of the celebration, the goddess is immersed in the local waters after performing the rituals. A grandeur is associated with the festival, while in recent times, the magnitude has lessened, the enthusiasm with which the people celebrate the festival is still the same.
Bathukamma means ‘come back to life mother’ and the festival is a way of asking for Goddess Sati to return. Legend has it that Sati returned as Goddess Parvati, hence the festival is also dedicated to Goddess Parvati.
While there are various myths behind this festival, one such myth is that Goddess Gauri killed ‘Mahishasura’ the demon after a fierce fight. Following the fight, she went to sleep on the ‘Aswayuja Padyami’, due to fatigue. Praying for her to wake up, the devotees kept chanting prayers for 10 days and the Goddess woke up on Dasami.
Another legend about Bathukamma mentioned in Telugu books, Dakhsa performed a Yagna and invited everyone but his youngest daughter, Gauri, who married Lord Shiva against his wish.
However, as she attends the Yagna and faces insult along with Lord Shiva. Unable to bear the insult, she sacrificed her life by setting herself ablaze. Women pray to bring her back and present her flowers while they make turmeric idol of the Goddess for the festival.