Hyderabad, June 25 : With the lifting of Covid-19 related restrictions in Telangana, Bonalu will be a grand affair this year, the government said.
Unlike last year when the festival was celebrated without people's participation, this year the festivities will be organised with mass gatherings and traditional procession. Minister for Animal Husbandry Talasani Srinivas Yadav said the temple committees will be briefed on the precautions to be taken during the festival.
Yadav, however, said on Friday that adherence to Covid-19 protocol, including wearing of masks and social distancing will be ensured.
He along with Home Minister Mahmood Ali, Endowments Minister Indrakaran Reddy, Labour Minister Malla Reddy, Hyderabad Mayor G. Vijayalaxmi, Director General of Police M. Mahender Reddy and other officials reviewed the arrangements for the festival, which will commence on July 11.
The Golconda Bonalu will be held on July 11 while the festivities at Mahankali temple in Secunderabad will be organised on July 25. The traditional Lal Darwaza Bonalu in the old city of Hyderabad will be held on August 1.
Ashada Bonalu is a festival held in the month of Ashada, according to the Hindu calendar, celebrating Goddess Mahankali.
Srinivas Yadav said that Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao has directed to organise the Bonalu festival on a grand scale this year.
The Chief Minister has also expressed a desire to offer the Bangaru Bonam (offering Naivedyam to the Goddess in a golden container) on behalf of the state government.
He said that Bonalu festivities will reflect Telangana culture with performances by the artistes.
Srinivas Yadav pointed out that ever since the formation of Telangana State, the government has been organizing Bonalu in a befitting manner. This year the government has allocated Rs 15 crore for the celebrations.
He said the money would be used to spruce up the temples for the celebrations and for making all necessary arrangements for the devotees.
Last year, Bonalu was a low-key affair as the people had celebrated the festival at their homes in view of Covid-19 pandemic.
The folk festival is mainly celebrated in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad region during the month of Ashada. The women make offerings in the form of food to goddess Mahankali in specially decorated pots. During the month-long festival, people also hold 'rangam' or forecasting the future, organise processions and cultural events.
Women queue up at the temples to offer Bonalu, which consists of cooked rice, jaggery, curd and turmeric water, carried in steel and clay pots on their heads. The devotees believe that the annual festival will ward off evil and usher in peace.
Nearly month-long festival begins with the celebrations at the Sri Jagadamba temple atop historic Golconda Fort.
The annual celebrations are also held at Sri Ujjaini Mahankali temple in Secunderabad and at Sri Simhavahini Mahankali temple in Lal Darwaza and at Sri Akkanna Madanna Mahankali temple in Haribowli.
The annual festivities conclude with a procession from Akkanna Madanna temple. The procession led by a caparisoned elephant, carrying the ghatam of the Goddess, passes through the main thoroughfares of the old city, including the historic Charminar.
It is commonly believed that the festival was first celebrated over 150 years ago following a major cholera outbreak. People believed that the epidemic was due to the anger of the Mahankali and began offering Bonalu to placate her.
After the formation of Telangana State in 2014, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) had declared Bonalu as the state festival.
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