A festive atmosphere enveloped Hyderabad as ‘Bonalu’, reflecting Telangana’s rich culture and tradition, was celebrated with gaiety here on Sunday.
Devotees, including a large number of women, thronged the temples since morning to offer prayers to the Hindu goddess of power — Mahankali or Kali.
Attired in their best, women queued up at the temples to offer ‘Bonalu’, which consists of cooked rice, jaggery, curd and turmeric water, carried in steel and clay pots on their heads. The devotees believe that the annual festival will ward off evil and usher in peace.
The main celebrations were held at Mahankali Temple Lal Darwaza and the historic Akkanna Madanna temple at Hari Bowli in Shah Ali Banda.
On behalf of the Telangana government, Cabinet Ministers Indra Karan Reddy and T. Srinivas Yadav made offerings of silk clothes at the Mahankali Temple.
Congress leader Jana Reddy, former MP and actress Vijayashanti, Telangana Jana Samithi founder Kodandaram were among other prominent personalities who participated in the festivities at the temples in the old city.
This is the fifth year of Bonalu being celebrated as a state festival for which the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) government released Rs 15 crore.
Various government departments made all the necessary arrangements for the devotees visiting the temples, including facilities for drinking water, sanitation, roads and uninterrupted power supply.
The two-day festivities will conclude on Monday with ‘Rangam’, the oracle prediction at Akkanna Madanna temple, followed by a combined procession on a caparisoned elephant, carrying the ‘ghatam’ of the goddess.
The procession will pass through the main thoroughfares of the old city, including the historic Charminar, before reaching the Delhi Darwaza Matha Temple near Musi River where the ‘ghatam’ will be immersed.
Bonalu is celebrated in parts of Hyderabad and its twin city Secunderabad during Ashada masam (July-August). Also known as Ashada Jatra Utsavalu, it is celebrated on three different Sundays in different places in the twin cities. Last Sunday, it was celebrated in Secunderabad.
It is commonly believed that the festival was first celebrated over 150 years ago following a major cholera outbreak. People believed that the epidemic was due to the anger of the Mahankali and began offering ‘bonalu’ to placate her. IANS