The Bathukamma festival is a part of the state's cultural identity and is celebrated with flowers.

Bathukamma Worshipping flowers to celebrate our bond with nature Telangana style
news Blog Sunday, October 09, 2016 - 09:08

Bathukamma festival is the cultural identity of Telangana, a new state formed in 2014. One of the main reasons for separate statehood for Telangana was neglect of its rich culture. Bathukamma is a unique and distinct floral festival organic to Telangana’s culture and heritage.

Generally, gods are worshiped with flowers. In Bathukamma festival, flowers are worshipped to celebrate the bond between humans and nature. Bathukamma – the word is a conjugation of ‘Bathuku’ and ‘Amma’ – meaning Mother Aliveness. The nature’s manifestation of life and its journey of aliveness is personified as a mother. Hence, Mother Life is celebrated.

Bathukamma is a conical-shape, concentrically-arranged flower mound. Flowers of Celosia, Cassia, Marigold, Chrysanthemum, flower of Pumpkin plant, Luffa and others that are indigenous to Telangana form the major part of the flowers in making a Bathukamma.

The festival is celebrated during Navratri, which starts on new-moon day and goes on till the eighth day of the Lunar calendar, that generally falls in the month of October. The significance of the timing is that by this time of the year, this region, usually semi-arid, receives rainfall and is lush green all around. The rivers and canals flow. Tanks and lakes are filled with water with farming being in full swing.

During Bathukamma Navaratri, every day early in the morning men and boys in the house, go out into the wild to get various flowers with long stems. The women prepare these flowers and trim the stems according to the size of the Bathukamma they are planning for that day.

Fathers or brothers go to their sisters’ place to bring them home for 10 days during Bathukamma. At their in-law’s home, women’s routine is filled with family related things. But, for these 10 days, women are freed from household botherations. The married women who come from their in-law’s place, and young women who are not married yet, and the girls, all have a wonderful time with their old childhood friends and the family.

The flowers brought in the morning, will be arranged into a Bathukamma. This is a creative and fun-filled activity. The whole family sits together and helps each other make a Bathukamma. Flowers themselves are colorful. Flowers like Celosia are dyed to make the Bathukamma more beautiful.

The actual vibrancy of this festival starts in the evening before sunsets. All the women in a house, married women wearing sarees and young women and girls wearing traditional attire, carry the Bathukamma into the streets.

On the streets, crossroads or plain grounds, bathukammas from every house are placed. Around these Bathukammas, women form circles and move sideways, clapping rhythmically and singing songs –which are called as Uyyala Patalu – meaning songs of lullaby. These songs have been created, composed and sung for centuries by women. These songs reflect the history and heritage of Telangana. Thousands of such songs were handed over to the generations via oral tradition and each generation added its own richness. In fact, these songs represent the zeitgeist (spirit of times).

A gentle circular movement along with a rhythmic clapping with a slight bend appears like a unique dance form.

After an hour of singing these songs and rhythmic circling, Bathukammas are carried to the nearest water pond or canal and immersed in water.

This festival is true symbol of unity in diversity. The allegory of various flowers to the strata of the society, where all people - rich and poor, young and old, irrespective of their caste and economic status come together for Bathukamma singing and dancing.

Bathukamma is a woman-centric festival. While circling the Bathukammas, the elbow of a woman touches the others and thus the next one gets the cue of the rhythm and the movement of encircling. This touch creates a feeling of sisterhood and removes the barriers of class differences and strengthens relationship. During Bathukamma, every family makes sure that the women are given their freedom and allowed to be as creative as they can.

Bathukamma, for ages, has imbibed a sense of unity and cooperation, and provided a thread of harmonious existence to the society of Telangana.  Various flowers in Bathukamma symbolize the true spirit of Unity in Diversity.

Bathukamma also espouses the philosophy of what comes from nature goes back to nature. The flowers are collected from the nature and sent off into the natural water bodies.

World has borrowed and learnt a lot from Indian culture. Bathukamma is one of those which the world has not known yet. The beauty of peaceful coexistence among various ethnic groups is symbolized in Bathukamma itself and its tradition of celebration. The world has taken the festival of colors, festival of lights and, now it is time for Festival of Flowers.

 

 

Note: The writer is a TRS MP from Telangana. The views expressed here are the personal opinions of the author.

 

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