Bonalu (Telugu: బోనాలు), also know as Ashada Jatara is one of the biggest festivals of Telangana. It is observed once in a year during the months of July/ August in the famous twin cities of Secunderabad and Hyderabad and also other parts of Telangana. In 2014, The government of Telangana declared Bonalu a state festival.

Bonalu in hyderabad Image Source: IANS

Bonalu festival is dedicated to Goddess Mahankali and is celebrated during the Ashadha month of the Hindu calendar. This is a religious day dedicated to thank Goddess Mahankali for her blessings.

When is Bonalu 2023?

Bonalu 2023, will extend over four Sundays in ashada masam starting from June 25. The first and the fourth day of the Bonalu festival will be observed by conducting many special poojas to Goddess Yellamma.

Bonalu 2023 festivities started at Jagadambika temple, Golconda Fort on July 03, Sunday. Celebrations at Ujjaini Mahankali Temple in Secunderabad will be held on July 17. The main Bonalu will be celebrated on July 24, Sunday at Sri Mahankali Temple, Lal Darwaza. July 25 is a public holiday in the state of Telangana.

Bonalu Dates in 2023

June 25 Sunday, July 02 Sunday, July 09 Sunday, July 16 Sunday,

→ To Know When Is Bonalu In 2024, 2025, 2026 Click Here

people dress for bonalu procession Image Source: IANS

This year ie. 2023, the main Bonalu will be celebrated on July 24 at Simhavahini Sri Mahankali Devalayam. July 25 is a public holiday in the state of Telangana.

What is Bonalu 2023?

The name has been derived from the Sanskrit term ‘Bhojanam’. This in turn became Bonam and that later was termed as Bonalu. It all means food, or a feast as in Telugu language. As per the festival, this is a food offering that is offered to the Mother Goddess Mahankali. Bonam denotes the food that will be cooked in pots and that is offered to the Goddess. In various parts of Andhra Pradesh, Bonalu includes the worship of the Goddess in a number of forms and names like Pochamma, Yellamma, Ankalamma, Peddhamma, Maremma, Dokkalamma, Poleramma, and Nookalamma.

Must See: Bonalu festival in pictures

Story behind the Bonalu Festival & its Rituals

It is believed that every year, the Goddess make a comeback to her maternal home in the month of Ashada. During the time, people offer their love, respect and devotion in the form of dance, and pots of food, bangles, and sarees.

Just as much as a family would welcome the return of their daughter into their own house, the same way, devotees are celebrating the visit of the Goddess to her own home. For this, special meals are offered so that she is pleased with her people.

They believe that Goddess Mahankali will wipe away all diseases, and sorrows of a person

potharaju character for bonalu in Telangana Image Source: IANS

Puja Rituals on Bonalu

On the first Sunday. , the rituals will be carried out at Sri Jagadamba temple in the Golconda Fort, Telangana.

The second Sunday rituals will be held in Balkampet Yellamma temple in Balkampet and Ujjaini Mahakali Temple in Secunderabad.It is called as Lashkar Bonalu.

The third Sunday of the Ashada month will conduct prayers at the Pochamma and katta maisamma temple in chilkalguda and the Matheswari temple of Lal Darwaza in Old City of Hyderabad.

Bonam Offering: People rise early each Sunday, have a complete bath, wear clean, new clothes. Women, purchase new Earthen pots, wash it and cook a mix of rice, curd, water, and jaggery in it. The pot is decorate with combination of red, white and yellow colours. They apply turmeric and kumkum on the pots. This pot is the offering to the Goddess.

Bonam Jyoti: Women cover the pot, place neem leaves on top and light a lamp on top and this is what called as the Bonam Jyoti.

Women prepare all the necessary pots, dress in traditional saree while young girls in lehengas or half sarees, place the pots on their heads, and dance to the drum beats as part of the honouring ceremony of the Goddess.

Along with the filled pots, they offer bangles and sarees to please the Goddess Mahankali. They do this in the belief that such offerings will drive away evil and help them survive through the Monsoon season.

Ashada Jatara Image Source: IANS

People participate in Bonalu celebrations, in Hyderabad

Thottelu: A colourful paper structure that is supported by bamboo sticks is also made and offered as part of the ritual to show the devotees respect to the diety. Though, only women dance, the entire family, men, old people and children take part and go to the temple.

The Bonalu Trance: It is believed that women who carry the pots will be possessed by the spirit of Mother Goddess. People often pour water on their feet during the procession, as the spirit may agitate them. See women who are in their tranced form!

Potharaju: This is believed to be the Goddess Mahankali’s brother and during their procession to the temple, a male will dress like this character and hold a prominent role in the procession. A well- built man wearing a red dhoti, a luxurious rub on turmeric and vermillion on this body, and heavy bells on his ankles completed his look. He starts the dance procession. He will have the power to lead the ladies who are tranced under the Mahankali spell by lashing whips and place neem leaves around them.

Rangam and Ghatam: The fourth day is dedicated to the rituals like Rangam and Ghatam. After three Sundays, the Fourth Sunday is the concluding ceremony. On this day, the Rangam and Ghatam rituals are conducted.

In Rangam ceremony, a woman will be invoked by the spiritual power and will be able to perform the art of foretelling the coming year and at this time, the devotees can ask about their future. This ceremony will take place in one of the temples mentioned above. Only after the last and final procession will start.

Ghatam is the last procession. Ghatam is a pot that is decorated like a goddess. A priest will carry the pot and then finally immersed in water. Drum beats follow in during this ritual. Usually, the Ghtam is taken on an elephant and the whole procession will end by evening. It will be a well lit affair and there is a special order by which the Ghatams from each city will go and immerse the Ghatams in water.

The Meat Offering: After the first procession and ritual, there is also a Bali or sacrifice ritual that follows. Chicken or goat is sacrificed and a grand meal is prepared out of it. Along with meat, alcohol, and palm tree wine is also offered as part of the sacrifice.

Must See: Bonalu festival in pictures

Goddess Mahankali for Bonalu festival Image Source: IANS

The Importance and History behind Bonalu 2023

Back in 1813, a plague had struck Hyderabad and Secunderabad. At that time, the military was deployed from Hyderabad to Ujjain. On hearing about the plague, the military began praying to Goddess Mahankali to stop the epidemic. They promised that if this was done, they would place an idol in the cities. 

Once the plaque disappeared, they kept their word, made the idol and also offered Bonalu. From then on, the people of Telangana have followed this ceremony.

Must See: Bonalu festival in pictures

Bonalu festival dates between 2020 & 2030

2020Sunday, 28th of June
2020Sunday, 5th of July
2020Sunday, 12th of July
2020Sunday, 19th of July
2021Sunday, 11th of July
2021Sunday, 18th of July
2021Sunday, 25th of July
2021Sunday, 1st of August
2021Sunday, 8th of August
2022Sunday, 3rd of July
2022Sunday, 10th of July
2022Sunday, 17th of July
2022Sunday, 24th of July
2023Sunday, 25th of June
2023Sunday, 2nd of July
2023Sunday, 9th of July
2023Sunday, 16th of July
2024Sunday, 7th of July
2024Sunday, 14th of July
2024Sunday, 21st of July
2024Sunday, 28th of July
2024Sunday, 4th of August
2025Sunday, 29th of June
2025Sunday, 6th of July
2025Sunday, 13th of July
2025Sunday, 20th of July
2026Sunday, 19th of July
2026Sunday, 26th of July
2026Sunday, 2nd of August
2026Sunday, 9th of August
2027Sunday, 11th of July
2027Sunday, 18th of July
2027Sunday, 25th of July
2027Sunday, 1st of August
2028Sunday, 25th of June
2028Sunday, 2nd of July
2028Sunday, 9th of July
2028Sunday, 16th of July
2029Sunday, 15th of July
2029Sunday, 22nd of July
2029Sunday, 29th of July
2029Sunday, 5th of August
2030Sunday, 7th of July
2030Sunday, 14th of July
2030Sunday, 21st of July
2030Sunday, 28th of July

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