Ujjaini Bonalu today

Ujjaini Bonalu today

Ujjaini Mahankali Temple: Ujjaini Bonalu Today. Ujjaini Mahankali Temple, Secunderabad, is all geared up for ‘Lashkar Bonalu’, the state festival of Telangana. The temple is spruced up and stalls are erected. The temple and police authorities have made facilities to ensure peaceful and quick darshan.

Ujjaini Mahankali Temple, Secunderabad, is all geared up for ‘Lashkar Bonalu’, the state festival of Telangana. The temple is spruced up and stalls are erected. The temple and police authorities have made facilities to ensure peaceful and quick darshan.

“1,400 police personnel would be deployed, of whom 160 would be women. 10 CCTV cameras have been set up outside the temple premises and 16 video cameras inside the temple. Some donors have come forward to donate more cameras for the security of devotees,” said A Ashok Goud, executive officer, Ujjaini Mahankali Temple.

Women carrying Bonalu  at Ujjaini Mahankali Temple, Secunderabad (file photo)

Excise Minister T Padma Rao said that the government was doing everything to make the festival a grand success. “The government is leaving no stone unturned to make sure that every devotee and attendees of the festival are safe. The police would be extra-cautious with regard to law and order and traffic,” he said in a recent interview.

The temple would be open by 4 am on Sunday for Telangana and Andhra Pradesh ministers along with other government officials to visit and seek blessings from the goddess.

Potharaju Veerangam, dances by Shivashaktis, would be an added attraction in this edition. The organisers of the festival also have roped in folk artistes, who would be dressed in the avatars of gods and demons, to entertain people with their rendering traditional folk songs. It would be a carnival-like atmosphere with people dancing to the ‘teenmaar’ beats and ‘Mayadari Maisamma’ songs. It is often during Lashkar Bonalu when devotees throng the temple dressed in traditional attire to offer ‘Bonam’ to the goddess.

How Bonalu is celebrated

On the occasion, women decked in finery, young girls wearing half-sarees bring out the traditional grace to the festival as they carry the bonam in a procession to be offered to the deity. The devout women balancing the bonam on their heads to offer it to the Mahankali Ammavaru as a thanksgiving accompanied by the rhythmic beats of the drums in the honour of the goddess and the entire procession replete with the ferocious potharaju dancing along, make this annual ritual a vibrant fare. Another endearing factor of the festival is that the entire community joins in the prayers and festivities in unison making it even more a joyous event.

In olden days, to ward off evil spirits, people used to sacrifice male buffalos in front of the temple, lately buffalos are replaced by roosters.

Here, women carrying Bonam are believed to possess the spirit of goddess, and when they go towards the temple, people pour water on their feet to pacify the spirit, who, by nature, is believed to be aggressive. Every group of devotees offers ‘Thottelu’ (a colourful, paper structure supported by sticks), as a mark of respect.

It is believed that the goddess comes back to her maternal home during Ashada Maasam, so people come to see her with food to show their love and affection.

Potharaju, the brother of goddess, is represented in the procession by a well-built, bare-bodied man, wearing a small tightly draped red dhoti and bells on his ankles, and anointed with turmeric on his body and vermilion on his forehead. He dances to resounding drums.

He is considered the initiator of the festivities and the protector of the community. He leads the female dancers who are believed to be under spell of the goddess (known as Shigam) to the temple. With lashing whips and emerald neem leaves (margosa) tied around their waists, accompanied by trumpets and drums, Pothuraju often is the quintessence of Bonalu.

Rangam, is held the next day morning of the festival. A women standing atop of an earthen pot, invokes Goddess Mahankali onto her to perform the custom. She foretells the year ahead and answers the queries put to her by the people around. This ceremony takes place ahead of the procession.

Ghatam, a copper pot decorated in the form of Mother Goddess is carried by a priest. The Ghatam is taken into procession from first day of the festival till last day, until it is immersed in water. The Ghatams of the Secunderabad City (Lashkar) include Ujjaini Mahakali and Mahadevi Pochamma at Karbala Maidan, Dokkalamma at Himam Bavi, Muthyalamma at Kalasiguda, Nallagutta, Pan Bazar, Chilkalguda, Uppara Basthi, Kummariguda, Regimental Bazar and Bhoiguda, etc.

Significance of Bonam

Bonalu involves the worship of Kali in her various forms. During the events, avatars of Kali like Maisamma, Pochamma, Yellamma, Pedamma, Dokkalamma, Ankalamma, Poleramma, Maremma and Nookalamma are worshipped. Bonam means meal in Telugu. On the day of the festival, women cook rice with milk, jaggery and other ingredients in a new brass or earthen pot. The pot is adorned with neem leaves, turmeric, vermilion and a lighted diya is placed on the top of the pot. Devotees carry the pots on their heads to the temple to be offered to the Goddess.

Traffic Curbs

In connection with Mahankali Jatara at Secunderabad, the city police have imposed traffic restrictions from 4 am on Sunday and Monday. On Sunday, from 4 am to till the completion of pooja, all roads leading to Mahankali Temple via Tobacco Bazar Hill Street and General Bazar Secunderabad would be closed. Other roads which would be closed include, Subash Road starting via Bata cross roads up to Ramgopalpet Police station and the road leading to Mahankali Temple via Advaiah cross roads.

General traffic and RTC buses from Karbala Maidan would be diverted at Ranigunj cross roads to Minister Road. Traffic from Bible House would be diverted at Ghasmandi cross roads to Sajjanlal Street and Hill Street and traffic from Paradise at RP Road would be diverted via Patny X-roads to SBH or Clock Tower.

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