The normally busy 'X' roads at Langar House wore a festive look on Thursday last. So did the lane leading to Golconda Fort via Chhota Bazaar and the heritage structure itself. The Aashadha maasam has brought in relieving monsoons and irresistible discount sales coupled with an opportunity to rediscover our age-old traditions and customs.
Yes, the Bonalu festival has begun customarily with much fanfare, spreading its charm beyond the boundaries of the state. The ritual, that the Telangana region is renowned for, dates back to more than 400 years - when the Nizams had their fair share in preserving our rich cultural heritage.
Bonalu (meaning prasadam offered to the deity) usually consists of rice, vegetables, honey, jiggery and curd filled in three pots. "Decorated with turmeric/vermillion paste and neem leaves, the pots (clay ones are now being replaced with bronze and silver pots) are topped with a deepam that is offered to the deity after taking out a procession," says K Krishna, one of the members of Central Peace and Welfare Committee at Langar House division.
Draped in color papers and embellished with turmeric/vermillion paste, the thotte (a makeshift bamboo dome) carrying the images of Goddess Jagadambika or Renukamba and Her six sisters welcomes all and sundry. The procession culminating at the Fort (nearly 7 km) is taken out only after pattu vastrams and pooja are offered to the thotte.
"The presiding deity of Jagadamba Mahankali Temple at Golconda Durgam receives the first pooja amongst all the seven siblings. At Golconda Jagadamba Bonalu, pooja is performed in five intervals on Thursdays and Sundays. The sixth pooja (Laskhar Bonalu) is offered at Ujjaini Mahankali Temple in Secunderabad followed by the one at Laldarwaaza Mahankali Bonalu in Old City," informs N Jagadish, Maithri Committee member.
While the teen maar and fierce dance steps of poturajulu (considered the brothers of the Goddesses) keep the spirits high, devotion overflows in every moment during the fiesta.
The concept evolved when many people had lost their lives to communicable diseases, several years ago, during monsoons. "Unaware of the scientific reasons behind their practices, our ancestors (irrespective of caste, religion and creed) believed that the Goddesses were showering health on them. We're just rediscovering the beauty in the rituals and keeping it alive," wonders Laxman, who has been donning the role of Poturaju for 15 years now.
Rafajjahaan, a resident of Moti Darwaza partaking in the festivities for the last 20 years, is quite inspired by the spirit of togetherness that bonalu proclaims. "The festival has been a testimonial to the feel of 'unity' prevalent among us Muslims and Hindus for several years. Both my sons were roped in to the Maithri committee by the city police to extend help in peacefully conducting the carnival.
"The festival has thousands and lakhs of devotees coming down from the nearby places and other states. Hence, we deployed around 400 policemen to ensure safety and security," quips G Sridhar, Inspector of Police, Langar House police station.
"Accommodation and drinking water are being taken care of in view of the huge rush in coming days," informs Padmanabham, Chairman of Golconda Jagadambika Temple committee.