Telugus celebrate Dussehra & Bathukamma

Telugu women at Bathukmma festival
Telugu women at Bathukmma festival

Dave Vasudevan
CHICAGO: American Telugu Association (ATA) a 27+ years old organization successfully organized its flagship event Dussehra and Bathukamma Celebrations at Sri Balaji Temple, Aurora (Chicago) on Sunday October 7.

Bathukamma is a festival that is celebrated for nine days during Navrathri starting on Mahalaya Amavasya and ending on Ashwayuja Ashtami (also called ‘Pedha/Sadhula Bathukamma’). Over 300 saree clad Indian women attended the occasion to celebrate the festival of Dussehra/Bathukamma offering flowers to the goddess Gauri/Bathukamma with much fervor and gusto.

This event started with Vigneshwara Pooja, offering prayers to Lord Ganesh to remove any obstacles. ATA team was party to the lamp lighting ceremony. Smt. Sunitha Reddy explained the importance of the Bathukamma festival and thanked the ladies for their beautiful Bathukammas. Unique decoration by Anitha Pochampally portraying Bathukamma was the highlight of the event. Kids and ladies were witnessed having a great time snapping pictures in front of the backdrop.

Sumptuous food was served to the attendees and the post lunch festivities kick started with Bathukamma arriving traditionally amidst prayers. Ladies carrying their home made Bathukammas placed them in Rangoli formation made out of rice flour. Maleeda was offered to the goddess as a ritual offering which included various saddis: curd rice (perugusaddhi), tamarind rice (chinthapandupulihora), lemon rice (nimmakayasaddhi), coconut rice (kobbarisaddhi), sesame rice (nuvvulasaddhi).
Celebrity folk Singer Raagam Shalini, a special attraction for the event, enthralled the audience with her mesmerizing voice and there followed dancing to the tunes of Bathukamma. Bathukamma, an arrangement of flowers in the shape of a pyramid, is a hugely popular festival in Telugu states and celebrates the goddess Gauri.

‘Bathukamma’ in Telugu, is to ask the ‘goddess to come alive’. Preparing a Bathukamma is a folk art. Women start preparing Bathukamma from the afternoon. They cut the flowers leaving the little length base and arrange them on a wide plate called Thambalam, and stack them up in a conical mound, decorated with a lotus or pumpkin flower on top of the stack along with Gouramma (a symbolic idol of Gowri made of turmeric).

There are many stories about the origin of this festival. Goddess Gauri killed ‘Mahishasura’ the demon after a fierce fight. After this act, she went to sleep on the ‘Aswayuja Padyami’, due to fatigue. The devotees prayed to her to wake up, and she woke up on the Dasami.
Another story is Bathukamma is that she is the daughter of the Chola King ‘Dharmangada’ and ‘Satyavati’. The king and queen lost their 100 sons in the battlefield and prayed to Goddess Lakshmi to be born in their house, as their child. Goddess Lakshmi heard their sincere prayers and chose to oblige them. When Lakshmi was born in the royal palace, all the sages came to bless her and they blessed her with immortality “Bathukamma or Live Forever”. This festival indicates the beginning of Sharath Ruthu.

The nine days of Bathukamma cover: Day 1: Engili pula Bathukamma; Day 2: Atkula Bathukamma; Day 3: Muddapappu Bathukamma; Day 4: Nanabiyyam Bathukamma; Day 5: Atla Bathukamma; Day 6: Aligina Bathukamma; Day 7: Vepakayala Bathukamma; Day 8: Vennamuddala Bathukamma and Day 9: Saddula Bathukamma.

ATA Advisory chair Hanumanth Reddy along with Dr. Meher Medavaram, Laxmi Boyapalli, Bhanu Swargam wished the community prosperity, happiness and wealth during this festive season. The ATA team thanked the community for the support and appreciated the sponsors for help to celebrate the customs and traditions of Telugu culture.

Best Bathukamma & Raffle ticket winners were awarded prizes by Dr. Mehar Medavaram and Sainath Boyapalli. Volunteer efforts were overseen by Narasimha Chittaluri, Mahipal Vancha, Venkat Thudi, Hari Raini & Venkat Reddy.
Media & food logistics were handled by Jagan Bukkaraju, Ramana Abbaraju, Karunakar Doddam and Vijay Yanala.

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