Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Festival of Flowers - Batukamma

Flowers are integral part of Indian festivals. Feel of festivity starts with flowers. But, what can be said about festival of flowers..... Today's post is about one such Festival of Flowers, one that is very dear to my heart!

Bathukamma -
is a colorful and vibrant festival celebrated in the state of Telangana, India. Celebrated by women, with flowers that grow exclusively in this region during this time of the year. Festival that represents cultural sprint of Telangana, Bathukamma - is a beautiful flower stack, arranged with different unique seasonal flowers most of them with medicinal values, in seven concentric layers in the shape of temple gopuram. In Telugu( Native language of Telangana ), ‘Bathukamma' means ‘Mother Goddess, come alive’ and Goddess MahaGauri is worshipped in the form of Bathukamma .

Navratri, which is celebration of Goddess Durga in different forms. Bathukamma is one such celebration involving flowers. It starts on the day of Mahalaya Amavasya and the 8-day festivities ends on "Saddula Bathukamma" or popularly known as Durgashtami which is two days before Dussehra. The women folk normally get back to their parent's home from their in-laws to celebrate this colorful festival of flowers. Small ‘Batukammas’ are made and played around them every evening and immersed in a nearby water pond. On the last day, the men folk of the house go into the wild and gather flowers like gunuka and tangedi(native flowers of these regions). They bring home bagfuls of these flowers and the entire household sits down to make the big ‘Batukamma’. These flowers are carefully arranged row after row in a brass plate (called taambalam) in circular rows and in alternate colors and at the top sits is Maa Gowri made with Turmaric. As evening approaches the women folk of the household dress colorfully with the best of their attire and adorn ornaments and place the Batukamma in their courtyard. The women of neighborhood also gather in a large circle around it. They start singing songs by circling it repeatedly, building a beautiful human circle of unity, love and sisterhood.

Writing this post is bringing back my memories of how I have celebrated this festival growing up with my mom, sister and cousins. While I remember those days .. here are some glimpses of how I have celebrated it this year with my little girl and ladies of our community!!

Each of the layers of these flower pyramid is made with different colors and types of flowers and these colors and types of flowers have there own significance.

(L to R) Flowers used for making bathukamma, tangedu (cassia), gunugu (celosia), velvet flower, banthi (marigold), chamanthi (chrysanthemum), lotus and pumpkin flower (images collage created from google images)

Though I can't find these specific flowers where I live
So here is how we improvised our Bathukamma with the flower we find here in USA.

This symbolizes girls and their affair with flowers

Flowers are stacked in layers and center is filled with leaves to keep Batukamma stand stable.

We layered ours with the flowers of our choice. Also added Pine cone flowers which are native to place we live.

Adorn in our best attire we went to community event where all ladies of community gathered together for celebrations..

Ladies and girls sing and dance around Batukammas forming human circles..

After playing in circles around the “Batukammalu”, before the onset of dusk, the women folk carry them on their heads and move as a procession towards a bigger water body near the village or town. The procession is extremely colorful with the decorations of women and the “Batukammalu”. Songs of folklore are sung in chorus throughout the procession and the streets resonate with them. Finally, when they reach the water pond the “Batukammalu” are slowly immersed into water.Then they share the sweets amongst the family members and neighborhood folks.

The flowers used in Batukamma have a great quality of purifying water and such flowers when immersed in abundance into the pond have the effect of cleansing the water and making the environment much better. In times where the fresh water ponds are gradually diminishing away it is indeed a pride of Telangana that its womenfolk inherently know how to make them better with their celebrations ... celebrations to preserve beauty of nature - Mother Earth!

Images Source: All Images(which are not credited) are taken by me or my family and are from my home or during our celebrations, they are property of Rangkatha. Please, do not use them.