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Buoyant over `Batukamma'

The festival of Dasara has its own regional flavours, says RAMACHANDER PENTUKER


IN OUR age of celluloid gods and hi-tech living, the Hindu pantheon of countless gods and goddesses wrapped in mystique and enchanting lore has its own tales to tell and festivals to celebrate. Some of these festivals are region-specific, but nonetheless important.

Dasara, considered to be the ten most auspicious days in the year and celebrated all over the country, is marked by a series of festivals and rituals. One such festival, which is unique to Telangana, is `Batukamma' observed annually by the women of this region as a mark of tribute to the Goddess Durga. The festival holds the same significance, as Kali puja for the Bengalis. In a sense, this festival means a thanksgiving to the mother of life and the generosity of nature. So, what better way to express than to say it with a profusion of colourful, sweet-scented flowers arranged in the shape of conical mounds?

See it here

Warangal's Bhadrakali temple captures the essence of the spirit of this festival. On Durgastami, at sundown, the placid environs around the lake reverberate with the soul-stirring songs of Batukamma, sung by thousands of women who converge, clad in expensive silks and heavy jewellery carrying in their hands Batukammalu, the icons of the goddess Gauri in all their various colours and sizes. The Batukamma songs have a folk tint to them written as they are in an earthy Telangana dialect with an intrinsic musical charm.

The story of Batukamma lost in the mists of history begins when Daksha performed a great yagna and invited all but his youngest daughter Gauri who married Lord Siva much against his will. However, Gauri turns up at the palace where Daksha insults her and her husband before all. Unable to bear her husband's humiliation, Gauri kills herself. Moved by the tragedy, the women present there, as an act of wishful thinking, bring her back to life, make an image of her in turmeric paste and worship it with a profusion of flowers, a ritual that continues to this day.


For seven days, ending with Durgastami, women of all age groups sing and dance to the glory of the goddess. Girls vie with each other in preparing the cone-shaped Batukammalu by arranging flowers of different hues on platters made of bamboo.

A dab of turmeric paste is applied atop each of these votive objects, and, finally, after an hour's worship, they are immersed in the waters of the lake.

In an era of pan-Indian festivities, the likes of Batukamma help us get in touch with our roots.

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