The Bathukamma fervor has yet to hit Telangana, but the festivities kicked off in New Zealand on Friday, with none other than Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern joining the celebrations.
Ardern became the first prime minister to partake in the festival, after she was invited by the Telangana Association of New Zealand, who hosted the event.
Taking to Twitter, former Minister of Municipal Administration and Urban Development K T Rama Rao expressed his happiness over the New Zealand PM’s participation.
Ardern was roundly praised on Twitter for being a part of the festival celebrations.
Super madam— Srikanth@G (@SrikanthG0123) October 13, 2018
Thank you Rt.Honourable Jacinda Ardern, prominence of Bathukamma doubled with your presence. Thank you KTR garu .— VIJAY REDDY KOSNA (@vijaykosna4) October 13, 2018
Observed during Dasara, Bathukamma is a floral celebration as well as a state festival of Telangana. After the bifurcation in 2014, the TRS government gave the official state festival status to Bathukamma, a grand annual spectacle for Telangana.
Last year, the government distributed free sarees across the state to the poor, in honour of the festival, spending Rs 200 crore. However, this caused a major controversy, with protests by several women, who burnt the sarees alleging that the government had insulted them by gifting sarees of poor quality. The opposition charged that TRS leaders had swindled crores in cash and distributed substandard old sarees to the women. However, the government shot back, saying that the protests where orchestrated by the Congress party in an attempt to defame the TRS.
The TRS party had wanted to distribute sarees this year as well. However, as the cabinet was dissolved prematurely, the Model Code of Conduct came into force and the Election Commission did not give permission for the distribution.