About The Festival
Bonalu is a Hindu festival celebrated annually in twin cities Secunderabad / Hyderabad and other parts of Telangana where Goddess Mahankali is worshiped during the Ashada month around July/August.
Bonalu is the biggest festival in Telangana and was declared as the state festival by the Government of Telangana in 2014.
Special pujas are performed and the Goddess worshipped in different forms like Maisamma, Pochamma, Yellamma, Peddamma, Dokkalamma, Ankalamma, Poleramma, Maremma, Nookalamma, etc.
The word Bonam is a short form of Bhojanam, a Sanskrit word which means meal or a feast in Telugu and is offered to the Goddess.
Bonam is a cooked rice with Jaggery and milk prepared in a new brass, earthen pot decorated with neem leaves, turmeric and vermilion (Kumkum). A lamp is lit on top of the pot and is called Bonam Jyoti.
This festival is considered as the thanksgiving to the Goddess for the wish fulfillment.
Bonalu 2023 Dates
In 2023 Bonalu dates are June 25, July 2, July 9, July16
- Golconda Bonalu 2023 Date – June 25th Sunday
- In Secunderabad Bonalu will be celebrated on – July 16 Sunday
- In Balkampet Yellamma – Pochamma temple Bonalu celebrations starts from the first day of Ashadam, and Edurukollu on June 19th, Festivities on June 20th and Rathotsavam will be celebrated on June 21st.
Popular Temples to Celebrate Bonalu in 2023
Second Sunday, at Balkampet Yellamma temple Balkampet. Ujjaini Mahakali Temple in Secunderabad known as Ashada Jatara Utsavalu also known as Lashkar Bonalu.
Lashkar Bonalu is one of the huge events celebrated for two days, includes the prominent temples in secunderabad like Sri Ujjaini Mahakali Devasthanam, Sri Gandimaisamma temple, Sri Devi Pochamma temple, Sri Muthyalamma temple, Sri Peddamma temple, Sri Dokkalamma temple, and Sri Penugula Mallanna temple.
Sri Ujjaini Mahakali temple and Sri Devi Pochamma temple are the government temples, officials visit and take part in the celebrations.
Third Sunday, Pochamma and Katta Maisamma temple of chilkalguda and the Mateshwari temple of Lal Darwaza in the old city. Akkanna Madanna temple in Haribowli and Muthyalamma temple in Shah Ali banda are the other temples where bonalu is celebrated.
Bonalu in Sravana Masam
Bonalu is celebrated in the month of Sravanam in certain areas like Gunfoundry, and Kalasiguda.
Gunfoundry Muthyalamma temple has a two century old Tradition which consists of a two days festival.
- First day is the Thotela yatra, with Bonam given to the deity from various devotees. Followed by the Ghatam yatra and concluding with Ori(village) Bonam by the trustees on behalf of the devotees.
- Second day, events like Rangam, Kallu Ghatam, Sare Gampa yatra and Garurangam(pothuraju) take place, concluding the event by sending off the Ghatam yatra.
Why Bonalu Festival is celebrated?
According to mythology, during Ashada masam from late June to August, the mother goddess came back to her parents house which makes the best time to offer bonalu to the Goddess.
This is compared to a married daughter, who returns to her parents house each year for a vacation and is pampered by her parents.
In an another story,
In the 18th century, in the year 1813, plague broke out in the twin cities and thousands of people were dead.
The military battalion moved to Ujjain from Hyderabad just before the plague, came to know about the epidemic in the city, prayed to the Goddess Mahakali in Ujjain-Madhya Pradesh to kill the plague, in order they would install an idol in the city.
It is believed that the Goddess killed the disease and kept the plague away. So, the battalion returned to the city and installed the Goddess Mahakali idol in the city by offering Bonalu to her. From then the tradition is followed by most of the people in telangana.
The Rituals on Bonalu Festival
On this special day, women dress up in sari, Teenage girls dress up in half saree/Lehenga choli and ornaments to bring the grace of the attire.
In honor of the local goddess, some Tranced women dance with the balancing pots to the beats of drums.
In olden days, people used to sacrifice the male buffalo in front of the temple but now they are replaced with the sacrifice of roosters to ward off the evil spirits.
Women who carry bonam on their head are considered to take over the spirit of the mother goddess, so as the women go towards the temple people pour water on their feet to calm the spirit.
In respect to the deity, devotees make a colorful paper structure supported with the bamboo sticks and offered as the part of ritual.
As per mythology, Pothuraju is the brother of goddess Mahakali, plays a role in the yatra by a well built man by wearing red dhoti, bells on his ankles, rub turmeric on his body and kumkum on his forehead.
- He dances in front of the Palaharam Bandi(Yatra) and is considered as the initiator of the festivities and protector of the community.
- He has the power to lead the ladies who are under the spell of Goddess known as shigam, to the temple, with lashing whips and neem leaves tied around their waists.
Bali or sacrifice ritual is followed after the first yatra (procession) where a rooster or goat is sacrificed and a grand meal is prepared out of it for family and relatives along with meat, alcohol and palm tree wine.
Rangam and Ghatam in Bonalu Celebrations
The fourth sunday is the concluding ceremony and is dedicated to the rituals like Rangam and Ghatam.
- Rangam: In this ceremony, woman standing atop of the earthen pot invokes the spiritual power and will perform the art of foretelling of future and present, the devotees can ask about their future.This ceremony starts before the yatra starts.
- Ghatam: It ia s last yatra. Ghatam is the pot decorated like a goddess, carried by the priest, dressed in a traditional dhoti whose body is rubbed with the turmeric and then finally the pot is immersed in the water followed by the drum beats.
Usually, Ghatam is taken on the elephants and the whole yatra will end in the evening with a glittering yatra and display of much pomp and show followed by immersion of Ghatams at Nayapul.