As the dawn broke and even before the Friday sun lighted up the day with its warm rays, heaps of flowers in dazzling colours in streets and lanes in public places brightened up the day in Hanamkonda town. Scores of men and women from the villages surrounding the town came up with their ware – flowers of all colours and kinds. People thronged these roadside vendors bargaining for their share of flowers.
When the sun starts setting during the evening hours, Women, young and old, in their best attire head to the nearby temples and to street corners to celebrate Bathukamma – the festival of flowers. Women and children carry plates arranged with flowers of different colours and species in a cone shape. They vie with one another in arranging the flowers as high as possible.
Though the evening rituals last an hour, the women wake up early and prompt their children to collect as many flowers as possible from the neighbourhood. All the flowers available during the season – Cassia (thangedu), luffa (bera), celosia (gunugu), nelumbo (thamara) cucurbita (gummadi), marigold (banthi), crossandra (kanakambaram), ixora (ramabanam), hibiscus (mandhara), and so on are collected and splendidly arranged in an enticing fashion.
Women mostly gather at the Thousand Pillar temple, Bhadrakali temple, Padmakshi temple in Hanamkonda and some of them look for street corners in their respective localities. They form a circle and place their flowers in the middle. They go round clapping and dancing rhythmically. All songs carry the essence of ‘ Long Live Mother’ urging the goddess to take birth. These moments last for nine days during the Durga Navaratri celebrations preceding Dasara.
Legend has it that King Daksha performed a yagna and invited all but his youngest daughter Gauri, who married Lord Siva against his will. However, Gauri turns up at the place and is insulted along with her husband. Gauri then kills herself. Women present there make an image with turmeric paste and worship her urging her to come back to life.
According to local lore, this was also a spiritual celebration offering prayers to Goddess Kali by the women to bless their children have long lives that had been dying in infancy. Academics opine that this was the season when people got many flowers which were beneficial to women. “Each flower has medicinal properties and their touch or smell has a healing touch,” explained environmental activist V Gurunadha Rao.
People from different places arrive in Warangal only to witness the Bathukamma festival in all its grandeur. The final day process would be worth seeing when all the roads would be filled with women carrying flowers lending glamour and glitter to the town. With the state government sanctioning funds and declaring it as an official festival, all the government agencies were making elaborate arrangements for the Bathukamma festival.
By Gollapudi Srinivasa Rao