Bonalu is a Hindu festival where the celebration usually falls during July and August. Bonalu festival showcases Telangana's rich culture as people soak in the traditional festivities simging Bonalu songs. For this festival, Goddess Mahankaali is worshipped, and special poojas are performed during the days of the festival. This wonderful festival is considered as a way of thanking the Goddess for her blessings.
In Telugu, Bonam means Meal, which is one of the offerings given to the Goddess. Every year, devotees worship and honor the Goddess with dance and rituals. The government of Telangana has declared this beautiful festival as a state festival. The Bonalu 2020 festival will begin on 28th June and end on 19th July.
The festival began in 1813 in Secunderabad and Hyderabad when an epidemic broke out, and the plague claimed the lives of thousands of people. From Hyderabad, a military battalion was deployed to Ujjain, and they offered prayers to the Mother Goddess at Mahankaali temple in concern about the plague menace.
They prayed for relief from the epidemic, and if people were saved, they would install an idol of the mother goddess in Secunderabad. The devotees believed that the Goddess halted the spread of plague, and the Military Battalion went back to Secunderabad and installed the idol as they promised by offering Bonalu to Mahanakaali.
Rituals for the Celebration
The devotees dress up in their traditional attires, and women wear jewelry and other accessories for the celebration. During the celebration, people dance to their traditional music and sing prayers. The festival starts at Golconda. People believe that the divine spirit of Mother Goddess possesses women who carry Bonalu. People sprinkle water on the feet of these women, when they reach the temple, to pacify the spirit, which is sometimes believed to be very aggressive. They offer Thottilu, which are small and colorful structures made from papers, supported by sticks, and these are offered to the Goddess as a token of respect.
Families also share offerings at the temples and with their relatives and friends. They come together to celebrate this grand occasion.
The performing the Oracle, or the Rangam, is held on the day after the actual festival. A woman performs this custom who invokes the Goddess Mahankaali onto herself. This woman foretells the future when the devotees ask for information.
He is considered to be the brother of Mahanakaali, and Pothuraja is represented by a well-built and bare-bodied man who wears bells around the ankles and tightly draped red dhoti. He applies vermilion on his forehead and turmeric all over his body. He dances close to the Palaharam Bandi, the procession, to the resounding drums.
This is a copper pot that is carried by the priest and is decorated in the form of Mahankaali. The priest would smear his body in turmeric, adorning a traditional dhoti. The pot is taken as a procession till the final day of the festival. The procession is accompanied by the drums.
After the ritual and the first procession, there is also a sacrifice ritual or Bali. Goat or chicken is sacrificed for this, and a grand meal is prepared using this meat.
Places where Bonalu festival is celebrated
Bonalu is celebrated in various parts of the state and is celebrated by many people. The celebrations begin at the Golconda Fort during the first Sunday of Aashaadam, followed by Balkampet’s Yellamma temple on the second Sunday. On the third Sunday, the celebrations take place at the Katta Maisamma, Pochamma, and Matheswari temples near Chilkalguda and the Old city of Hyderabad.
Other popular venues of the celebrations are in Haribowli (Akkanna Madanna temple) and Shah Ali Banda (in Muthyalamma temple). Thousands of devotees come to the temples to pray to the Mother Goddess.
To reach the Golconda fort, you can book a bus online on redBus and get down at the Golconda Bus Station. On the second Sunday, you can reach the Yellamma temple by getting down at the Balakampet bus stop, which is only a few meters away from the temple.
On the third Sunday, you can celebrate at the Katta Maisamma temple, Pochamma, and Matheswari temples. The nearest bus stop to the Katta Maisamma temple is the Mini Tankbund, and you can book your bus using redBus. The Chilkalguda Municipal Complex is the nearest bus stop to the Pochamma temple, and Charminar Bus station is the nearest stop to the Matheswari temple.
All these temples can be easily accessed by simply logging onto the website! There are many other little temples in Hyderabad and Secunderabad where you can go to celebrate the Bonalu festival with your family and friends.
Bonalu festival is one of the biggest festivals celebrated in Hyderabad and Secunderabad! You can enthusiastically celebrate Bonalu 2020 with redBus!
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