Telangana Bonalu, south Indian Festival celebrations
Bonalu or Goddess Mahankali bonalu (Telugu: బోనాలు ) is a Hindu Festival, Goddess Mahakali is worshiped. Bonalu is an annual festival of Telangana celebrated in Twin Cities Hyderabad, Secunderabad and other parts of Telangana. It is celebrated in the month of Ashada Masam, in July/August. Special poojas are performed for Yellamma on the first and last day of the festival. The festival is also considered a thanksgiving to the Goddess for fulfillment of vows.
The word Bonam is a contraction of the word Bhojanam, a Sanskrit loanword which means a meal or a feast in Telugu, is an Offering to Mother Goddess. Women prepare rice cooked with milk and jaggery in a new Brass or Earthen Pot adorned with Neem leaves, turmeric, Vermilion and a lit lamp on the top of the Pot. Women carry the pots on their heads and make an offering of Bonam along with Turmeric-Vermilion,Bangles and Saree to the Mother Goddess across the Temples.
Bonalu involves the worship of Mother Goddess in regional forms like Mysamma, Pochamma, Yellamma, Peddhamma, Dokkalamma, Ankalamma, Poleramma, Maremma, Nookalamma.
The history of the origin of this festival traces back to the 18th Century, and is linked with the "Regimental Bazaar" and the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad. In the year 1813, plague disease broke out in the twin cities, and this took away the lives of thousands of people. Just before this, a military battalion from Hyderabad was deployed to Ujjain. When this Hyderabadian Military Battalion got to know about the epidemic in the cities, they prayed to the Mother Goddess in Mahankaal Temple - Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh. History tells us, that this military battalion prayed to Goddess Mahankaali, to kill the plague, and if the Goddess would do so, they had decided to install an idol of the Goddess Mahankaali in the city. It is believed that Mahankaali destroyed the disease and kept the pestilence away. Then, the military battalion returned to the city and installed an idol of the goddess, which was followed by the offering of Bonalu to her. Hence, from then, this became a tradition, which has been followed and is still being followed by most of the people of Telangana.
Other versions also include the mythological story and belief that revolves around the festival, says that this is the time when Goddess Mahakali comes back to her parental home, in Ashada Maasam or the period from late June to August, and so, this period is the most optimal time to offer Bonalu to the goddess. This can be compared to the treatment of a girl, who is married, and then returns to her birthplace, and is pampered by her parents.