Bonalu is a Hindu Festival where Goddess Mahakali is worshipped. It is an annual festival celebrated in the twin cities Hyderabad and Secunderabad and other parts of Telangana state, India.
Bonalu is celebrated usually during Ashada Masam that falls in July/August. Special poojas are performed for goddess Yellamma during the first and last day of the festival. The festival is considered as a form of thanksgiving to the Goddess after the fulfilment of vows. Bonam literally means Meal in Telugu, which is an offering to the Mother Goddess. Women folk in household prepare rice that is cooked along with Milk, Jaggery in a New Earthen or Brass Pot, which is adorned with Neem Leaves, Turmeric and Vermilion. Women carry these pots on their heads and make an offering of Bonam, including Bangles and Saree to the Mother Goddess at Temples. Bonalu involves worship of Kali in her various forms such Mysamma, Pochamma, Yellamma, Dokkalamma, Pedamma, Poleramma, Ankalamma, Maremma, Nookalamma etc.
Bonalu festival -Origin
The festival history reportedly started in 1813 in the region of Hyderabad & Secunderabad when plague disease had broken out in Twin Cities that had claimed thousands of lives. A military battalion from Hyderabad was then deployed to Ujjain and concerned about the plague menace in Hyderabad the military battalion offered prayers to Mother Goddess at Mahankaali Temple in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh, that if people get relieved from the epidemic they would be installing the idol of Mahankaali back in Secunderabad. It is believed by devotees that Mahankaali halted the spread of the disease while the Military Battalion came back here & installed an idol by offering Bonalu to Mother Mahankaali.
Bonalu is celebrated across various parts of the city. During the first Sunday of Aashaadam, celebrations begin at Golconda Fort followed by Ujjaini Mahakali Temple in Secunderabad and Balkampet Yellamma temple in Balkampet on second Sunday, and the third Sunday, at the Pochamma and Katta maisamma temple near Chilkalguda and the Matheswari temple of Lal Darwaza in Old City of Hyderabad. Other temples such as Akkanna Madanna temple in Haribowli, Muthyalamma temple in Shah Ali Banda are the popular venues where Bonalu is celebrated. Lakhs of devotees throng the temples to pay obeisance to Mahankaali.
The festival begins at Golconda, Women who carry Bonalu are believed to possessing the spirit of Mother Goddess, and when they approach temple, people sprinkle water on their feet in order to pacify the spirit, which is believed to be aggressive. Devotees offer Thottelu. These are small, colorful paper structures, which are supported by sticks and offered as a token of respect.