Floral Festival of Goddess Gauri (Bathukamma) in Telangana India, sinces thousands of years also known as Bharat, is famous for its unique way of celebrating the festivals and also the prominent role of women in the society. I always wonder how all the festivals in different regions are celebrated on the same single concept. One such festival is Navaratri which is celebrated in the form of large gatherings especially women in different parts of India like Bengal, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Telugu speaking states. Let’s talk about one of the well known festivals which falls under this criteria ``Bathukamma". It symbolizes the patron goddess of Womanhood. One more beauty of this festival is Flowers. I personally feel this is a tribute to the wonderful seasonal wild flowers with high medicinal values in them. When and how to celebrate: This festival is celebrated for nine days starting from Bhadrapada Amavasya, also known as Pithra Amavasya which is New Moon day of the 6th Month of the Hindu lunisolar calendar, till Durgashtami, eighth day of seventh month, and usually it falls in the Months of September or October. Celebrated towards the end of Monsoon or start of the Sharath Ruthu, Fall season. The final day of Bathukamma, known as Pedha or Saddula Bathukamma falls two days before Dussehra Meaning and how it is celebrated: Bathukamma=Batuku(live or come back to life)+Amma(mother,goddess or any girl called lovingly). Bathukamma is an arrangement of seasonal flowers like Marigold, chrysanthemum, lotus flowers, celosia, Senna, pumpkin flowers, Globe Amaranth, Tanners Cassia, silver cock’s comb in the shape of a temple tower. These flowers have high medicinal values like healing power towards wounds, skin diseases, diabetes, fever, cold, blood pressure related diseases and many other internal / external disease healing powers.
On a big /small plate considered as per the quantity of flowers, a big leaf is placed first to support the arrangement of these flowers in the shape of a temple tower. Pumpkin flower is placed on the top with a small turmeric idol and betel leaf under this showstopper flower. All beautiful women, kids form a circle around all the Bathukamma they prepared individually or collectively and start singing traditional folk songs by clapping their hands and revolving around the Bathukamma which gives the essence to the festival and also immense pleasure to the viewers. While revolving around one prays to Goddess Gauri to destroy ego, laziness and give a social/individual strength to withstand any problems
. The festival begins a week before the grand ‘Saddula Bathukamma’ (the grand day of the Bathukamma festival) which falls two days before Dussehra. The women folk normally get back to their parent's home from their in-laws and breathe the fresh air of freedom to celebrate the colors of flowers. For one complete week, they make small ‘Bathukammas’, play around them every evening and immerse them in a nearby water pond. On the last day, the men of the house with a lot of enthusiasm go into the fields and gather the flowers like gunuka and tangedi. They bring home a bagful of these flowers and the entire household sits down to make the big ‘Bathukamma’. The flowers are carefully arranged row after row on a big plate in circular rows and in alternate colors. As evening approaches the women folk dress colourfully with the best of their attire and adorn ornaments and place the Bathukamma in their courtyard. The women from the neighborhood also gather along with their Bathukammas made in a large circle around it. They start singing songs by circling it repeatedly, building a beautiful circle of unity, love, sisterhood. Collective way of celebrating the festival gives more energy, enthusiasm and motivation to make a big Bathukammas. Nine different types of Bathukammas for nine days: Day1: Engili Puvvula Bathukamma
The first day of Bathukamma festival falls on Pithra Amavasya( which is a tribute to old ancestors).
Food Offerings is made from Sesame seeds, with rice flour or coarsely ground wet rice.
Day2: Atukula Bathukamma
The second day falls on Padhyami, first day of Ashwayuja Masam, seventh month of the Hindu lunisolar calendar.
Food Offering is made from Flattened Parboiled rice with Jaggery and other nut powder
Day3: Muddapappu Bathukamma
The third day of Bathukamma falls on Vidiya, the second day of Ashwayuja masam.
Food offering is made from boiled lentils, milk and jaggery.
Day4: Nannabiyyam Bathukamma
 The fourth day of Bathukamma falls on Thidiya, third day of Ashwajuya masam
Food offering is made from soaked rice, milk, Jaggery.
Day5: Atla Bathukamma
The fifth day of Bathukamma falls on Chathurdi, the fourth day of Ashwayuja masam.
Food offering is the pancakes of rice flour also known as dosa.
Day6: Aligina Bathukamma
 The sixth day of Bathukamma falls on Panchami, the fifth day of Ashwayuja masam.
No Prasadam, food offering, is prepared on this day, as it is believed that Bathukamma is feeling hurt
Day7: Vepakayala Bathukamma
 The seventh day of Bathukamma falls on Shashti, the sixth day of Ashwayuja masam.
Food Offering is made in the shape of fruits from neem tree from rice flour and are deep-fried.
Day8: Vennamudda Bathukamma
 The eighth day of Bathukamma falls on Saptami, seventh day of Ashwajuya masam
Food Offering is made from Sesame seeds, butter, jaggery.
Day9: Grand day Saddula Bathukamma
On this day, bigger Bathukamma compared to the other eight days are usually made.
The ninth day of Bathukamma falls on Ashtami, the eighth day of Ashwayuja masam.
Food Offering: Especially there are rice items like Curd rice, Tamarind rice, Lemon rice, Coconut rice, Sesame rice.
Malleda is also a special food offering which is balls made from chapati & Sugar Sattu is also prepared which is a powder from roasted ingredients like Cashew nuts, sesame, rice, Ground nuts, Green gram, Black gram, Bajra, Sorghum, corn with Jaggery or sugar. Saddula Bathukamma is bidding a farewell with an emotion and a ray of hope for the next year to come back. Grand walk by all the women in the village to the nearest pond or lake along with native drums and leave Bathukammas along with the big leaves in water is the end of the festival. The turmeric idol which is mentioned before is distributed among the women. Each woman applies this turmeric paste to their mangalsutras, a necklace worn by Hindu married women, worshipping the goddess to protect their husbands always.
If we observe here, consumption of sesame and other nuts which have health benefits during winter are consumed more during this festival. Immersion of Bathukamma in water is also related to the medicinal values of these flowers to purify the water. How beautiful a combination of science and tradition... Isn’t it?
Story of Bathukamma: There are many versions of stories related to Bathukamma. Here are a couple of them: 1. Centuries ago, King Dharmangada of Chola Dynasty, who was ruling South India. After his marriage he was childless for many years. After performing many pujas and rituals, his wife gave birth to Goddess Lakshmi. Baby Lakshmi survived many accidents. There is a belief that she survived with the blessings of another Goddess Gauri. So, her parents named her Bathukamma (live long goddess). In tribute to Gauri devi who loves flowers, this festival is celebrated by making the Bathukamma (flowers arranged in the shape of temple towers). Since then, Bathukamma festival is celebrated by women for the long lives of them and their husbands. Young girls celebrate it to get a good husband. 2. After a big war with Mahishasura demon, the Goddess Gauri goes to sleep because of tiredness. Devotees tried to wake her up by singing, chanting to celebrate her Victory. It is known as that’s how this festival is celebrated. Victory of good over the bad.
Mahishasura doesn’t need to be the cruel Devil with a big ugly body, horns, etc.
Mahisha means a buffalo. Buffalo within us is nothing but ego, laziness and other bad qualities which are hindrances to our growth towards life, society and in Moksha Marg, a state of bliss. During these nine days we try to get Victory over our bad qualities with the blessings of Goddess Gauri.
Navratri is one of the important festivals across Andhra pradesh. Durga devi is worshipped in nive avataras in nine nights. During Dasara Navaratri time the women folk, in particular the married women are involved in Lalita Sahasranaama Paarayana and Kumkumaarchana pooja and this is performed for a happy married life and for the welfare of the husband.
The famous Kanaka Durga temple on the Indrakeeladri hill in Vijayawada too attracts large crowd during the Dussehra Navaratri period as most of the devotees who are under Bhavani Deeksha or an oath taken in the name of the Goddess visit this temple for Deeksha Viramana or to fulfill the oath. Generally the Bhavanis wear either red or green costumes throughout their deeksha period. And the goddess Kanaka Durga ammavaaru shines with extra ordinary beauty with an ever-smiling face and with a peaceful look in her eyes who always blesses her children. On the culminating day the goddess is taken for a Swan-boat ride called the Hamsa Vaahanam on river Krishna.
Sreevari Brahmotsavaalu is celebrated at Tirumala during the time coinciding with Dussehra. It starts on the second day after Amavasya and ends on the Vijaya Dasami day with the chakra snaanam which culminates the utsavaalu. Each night the Utsava Vigrahaalu (idols used for the purpose of festival celebrations) of the Lord are beautifully decorated with a particular decoration and vaahanam or vehicle to be adorned by Sreevaaru. The names of some of the vaahanams are:
1. Bangaaru adham
2. Pedda Sesha vaahanam
3. China Sesha vaahanam
4. Hamsa vaahanam
5. Simha vaahanam
6. Muthyala pandiri
7. Mohini avataaram
8. Garuda vaahanam
9. Hanumata vaahanam
10. Pushpaka vimanam
11. Suryaprabha vaahanam
12. Chandraprabha vaahanam
13. Swarna radham and