In news– Rahul Gandhi during his Bharat Jodo Yatra, participated in Telangana’s traditional Bonalu festival.
What is Bonalu festival?
- Bonalu is a traditional Hindu festival centered on the Goddess Mahakali from Telangana.
- It is celebrated in the month of Ashada Masam, which is around July and/or August.
- The festival is also considered a thanksgiving to the Goddess for fulfillment of vows.
- The word Bonam is a contraction of the word Bhojanam, a Sanskrit loanword which means a meal or a feast in Telugu. It is an offering to the Mother Goddess.
- Women prepare rice cooked with milk and jaggery in a new brass or earthen pot adorned with neem leaves, turmeric, vermilion and a lit lamp on top of the pot.
- Women carry the pots on their heads and make an offering of the Bonam along with turmeric-vermilion, bangles and sari to the Mother Goddess across the temples.
- Bonalu involves the worship of Mother Goddess in regional forms like Maisamma, Pochamma, Yellamma, Peddhamma, Dokkalamma, Ankalamma, Poleramma, Maremma, Nookalamma.
- Special “poojas” (worship/ ceremonies) are performed for Yellamma (one of the many regional forms of Mahakali) on the first and last day of the festival.
- Potharaju, a key figure in the Bonalu festival, is the fearsome brother of the goddess Mahankali, who wields a whip to protect the goddess.
- During Bonalu, women walk in procession to temples led by ‘potharaju’ who violently dances to loud drum beats and whips the crowd with his ropes.
- Potharaju is considered to be the brother of seven sister goddesses — different forms of the goddess Mahankali.