Bathukamma, Telangana’s floral tribute to mother Goddess praying for her return has several legends attached to it. While one such legend talks about how when Sati jumps into fire after an insult, at her father Daksha's yagna, and comes back as Parvati, people celebrate it; yet another one closer to the people of the land is about a girl who makes herself the human shield against a breach in the canal to protect the lives of the villagers and hence floral tributes are paid to the saviour Bathukamma. In the absence of extensive research, a few people like Avala Buchi Reddy, Chairman of Indian Institute of Architects AP, Chapter (1992-94) have found interesting theories based on historical evidence.
The main Senani for Cholas was Rajendra Chola, son of Raja Raja Chola. Post the war, he looted from Karnataka and Telangana districts. Part of the loot was the ‘Shivalingam’ from Vemulavada Temple, which he took to a temple he was building - Bruhadeshwara Temple in Thanjavur, in 1006 AD. It was completed in 1010 AD. The people of Telangana felt that by taking away the Shiva Linga, the Goddess Bruhatamma was left alone here.
They were disgusted with the act of Rajendra Chola but they couldn’t make objections due to fear. As a protest they started making ‘Bruhatamma’, it means a flowered shape which is like ‘Meru Parvata’ and this flower represents the nature that is Ammavaru, Parvathi.
Then people started praying to ‘Bruhatamma’ for Bruhateshvara come back. In 1073 AD, Rajendra Ratha, Samantha of Vikramaditya installed back the Shivalinga after many years. Later, ‘Bruhatamma’ transformed as ‘Bratukamma’ and finally ‘Bathukamma’.” Avala Buchi Reddy also wrote a book on Bathukamma in 2014.
In addition to the beautiful layering of flowers, Bathukamma festival is also so much about the songs, a great vocal tradition handed down from generation to generation.
“Bathukamma songs have been there for many years. Even during Razakar movement and in Nizam’s period, people used to sing Bathukamma songs,” says the historian.
“The name of Narasimhakavi in this song – ‘Sree Lakshmi Uyyalo, Srusti Bathukammaye Uyyalo - Puttina Reethijeppe Uyyalo, Battu Narasimhakavi Uyyalo’, found in ‘Vilasa Sashanam’ of Musunuri Prolaya Nayaka of about 1340 AD, is an indication that the songs date back to the time. The poet Narasimhakavi was the son of Gangadhara Mahakavi, husband of Vidyanathakavi’s sister. Vidyanathakavi was an employee in the Court of Kakatiya Pratapa Rudra who ruled upto 1323 AD,” he adds.
If his theory of protest is true, then it is probably poetic justice that centuries later, Telangana Jagruthi under the captainship of Kalvakuntla Kavitha decided that the celebration of Bathukamma and singing and dancing together will unite Telangana women to uphold the culture and identity. This also helped in safeguarding the age-old culture and the songs that are now back in vogue and people of Telangana, today, take pride in celebrating this unique festival.
A song explains the gravity of any situation than the hours of speeches and talks, especially when it is people’s movement. In Telangana movement, songs played a key role by depicting the need for the separate state as was the case in the Separate Telangana movement of the 60s. Many artistes and singers became popular due to their songs in Telangana dialect.
Senior poets like Gaddar, Suddala Hanumanthu and Andesri became inspirations. After the formation of the state, the trend continued and diversified into songs celebrating the formation of the state and the state festival – Bathukamma. Television channels, upcoming singers, poets – everyone found a sure way into the hearts of the people.
Recently HMTV and a web channel MIC TV released Bathukamma songs that are already quite a hit with people. “We completed our song in 60 days and this is our third song and it is HMTV’s own production. The other two songs were outsourced. In this song we depicted the impeccable village culture of Telangana,” said Ratna Kumar, Features Editor, HMTV and director of the song.
On the eve of Bathukamma (Telangana’s Floral Festival), Sunday Hans spoke to poets, singers and musicians to know their view on the growing popularity of new-age Bathukamma songs alongside the traditional ones.
Lyricist Dr Kandikonda has penned more than 1,000 songs for films. Kandikonda has received a doctorate from Osmania University last month.
“Till now, I wrote six Bathukamma songs. I started writing these songs in 2015 for a news channel. Last year about 10 songs were released on the occasion of Bathukamma, however, this year more than 100 songs have been released,” he shares.
“In the present scenario, we have carefully added the Telangana culture and traditions in our songs. We do not try to make it modern. We just added rhythm for the songs to make it better. We take care of things like sound should not dominate the lyrics,” adds Dr Kandikonda.
He said that his favourite Bathukamma songs are “Pachapachane Palle” and “Kolo Kolo” from modern age. “Bathukamma is the soul of Telangana. In Telangana movement, women protested by playing Bathukamma. After the state formation, the cultural activities have increased in the state. I’m happy that Bathukamma has been declared as a state festival,” he says. He has written popular songs like ‘Bhumi Poralanundi Bhulokamochindi’, ‘Chinni Maa Bathukamma’, ‘Ooru Cheruvu’ and Chitapata Chinukulu Kurise’.
Satyavathi Rathod popularly known as Maatakaari Mangli is known for her Telangana dialect. Recently, she sang two songs for the Telangana Formation Day celebrations as well for Bathukamma festivities.
“Telangana is meant for songs. Telangana wouldn’t have been possible without songs. Songs reach quickly to people and help them to understand the gravity of any situation. Bathukamma songs played a key role in involving women in the Telangana movement,” she shares.
Mangli pursued a diploma in Carnatic Music from SV University, Tirupati. “I wanted to be a singer. As an anchor, I felt bad that I was not getting chances to sing. Recently, I got an opportunity to prove my talent and I sang two songs ‘Relare Relare’ and ‘Telanganalo Putti’ for MIC TV. Damu Reddy Kosanam is the brains behind making the Bathukamma songs. It just connected with people and became a trend and now everyone is following the suit,” adds Mangli.
Mangli’s favourite traditional Bathukamma songs are “Chittu Chittula Bomma” and “Mamidi Poose Mamidi Kayana”.
Speaking about her latest Bathukamma song “Telanganalo Putti”, she shares, “Through this song, we showcased the beauty of Telangana.”
Mangli stated that craze for Bathukamma songs is increasing every year. “Before the state formation, the songs were only limited to villages. The scene has reversed now and everywhere people are loving these songs,” she
Lyricist Suddala Ashok Teja has won a National Award for best lyrics for the song “Nenu Saitam” in ‘Tagore’ movie. He states that Bathukamma is the tradition of Telangana people. “This is the one and only flower festival in the world, which praises flowers. We have a culture of praising nature since ancient times and Bathukamma has originated from it,” Suddala Ashok shares.
Ashok Teja also said that in Telangana, people had a habit of depicting everything with songs. “ Our people use songs in happiness, sadness, joy and in every emotion. For events like Pregnancy, Birth, Annaprasana, and even in death, we use songs. Compared to other states, Telangana people use songs everywhere,” Ashok Teja adds.
He said that the Bathukamma festival is a symbol of living. “The flowers which are used to decorate Bathukamma are naturally grown. Today many are celebrating it with plastic flowers and it is not good because Bathukamma means natural and its flowers have a capacity to clean the water. Now Bathukamma has become a corporate element with the use of plastic flowers,” he opines.
Suddala also wrote famous Bathukamma songs like “Bangaru Bathukamma” and “Muddula Gumma Bathukamma”.
“My father, Suddala Hanumanthu also penned a Bathukamma song and he depicted a rail bridge accident in it. This year, many songs are released on Bathukamma and it is a good sign. These songs are providing bread and butter for artistes and helping them in getting name and fame,” he concludes.
Mittapalli Surender is a lyricist and has written 10 songs for Bathukamma till now. “I started writing songs for Telangana from 2002. A few decades back, people used to wait for movie songs and the trend has changed in recent times and now they are waiting for Telangana and Bathukamma songs. My first song ‘Janani Janani’ released in 2012 has inspired many people to write. I made the song in western tune. I was the first person to write a song on Bathukamma.”
Surender did songs like “Neevalle Harivillu” in 2013, “Yadadikosari Vastavala” in 2014, “Nilabadi Puchinde Nilagiri Vanamu” in 2015, “Gunna Gunna Gunuguvanam” in 2016 and “Telanganalo Putti Pulapallaki Ekki”, this year. He has worked for more than 50 movies and composed over 300 songs.
Surender said that the older Bathukamma songs depicted people’s problems whereas the current songs are about Telangana culture and traditions. “The social media is also helping our songs reach to more people within no time. The artistes who write, sing, compose and direct them are getting good name and fame,” Mittapalli Surender adds.
He informed that his next song “Agriculture” will be released through MIC TV after the Bathukamma festivities.
Inputs by V Sateesh Reddy