COVID-19: Bonalu festival gets personal this year

“It is the intent that counts,” says Avuna Padmasree, an worker of Kanchanbagh submit workplace. During Bonalu season each year, her home teems with kin and pals who collect for the celebrations. Dressed in conventional saris, ladies go from her home in a procession, carrying bonam (pots full of layers of rice, leafy vegetable and pacchi pulusu, a tangy dish of uncooked tamarind extract and uncooked onions). Covered with neem leaves and carrying an oil lamp on high, the flower-bedecked bonam is obtainable to the goddess in a temple.

This year, with the shadow of COVID-19 looming, Bonalu appears very totally different.

Undeterred, Avuna’s household heralded a change with an intimate ceremony. Instead of going to a temple, the ladies, sporting masks, carried bonam for a brief distance and returned house. “We offered it to the goddess in our puja room at home,” she says.

Celebrated in the course of the month of Aashadam (in July-August) in Telangana, Bonalu is a thanksgiving festival devoted to Goddess Mahankali. Dating again to 1813 when individuals honoured and worshipped the Goddess Mahankali following a plague within the area, the festival is well known all around the state with the worship of grama devata (village deity) in several kinds comparable to Pochamma, Maisamma and Yellamma.

Virtual celebrations by college students of Pavithra International faculty  
| Photo Credit:
Special arrangement

Ashada Bonalu festivities are over for many households, however a couple of households in areas like Uppal, Boduppal and Kothapet in Hyderabad will rejoice Sravana Bonalu within the month of Sravanam.

With temple festivities cancelled, this year’s Bonalu is a subdued affair. Bonalu normally begins on the Mahankali temple in Golconda and is well known in several localities on each Sundays. However, with an eye fixed on avoiding crowds because of the pandemic, this too is seeing a change. Ok Pramod Rao and his spouse Meena visited the temple on a Thursday sporting masks. “Since physical distancing is crucial, we chose a weekday when the temple is less crowded,” he says.

Kanapuram Vaishnavi, a Jogini (ladies devoted to serving dieties) because the age of 9, says she misses performing on the festival. The Rangam or oracle prediction by Joginis is a much-anticipated ritual. Over the previous month, the 21-year-old has been speaking about maintain the custom alive even whereas staying at house. “We are asking people to rekindle memories of past celebrations and make a difference by staying at home and having a quiet festival,” she says.

Women carry bonam with the masks on

Pavithra International School’s three branches in Dilsukhnagar, Manikonda and Lingampally are organising digital celebrations. Principal Sri Vani of the Manikonda department says, “Usually we have gala celebrations and explain the history and tradition of Bonalu. The school is also decorated in Bonalu colours. But this year, we digitally connected them.” She provides, “We instructed our students to send photographs in traditional attire from their homes and offer bonam at home. In these times of despair, students feel isolated and these small acts can cheer them up. They will receive blessings too by staying at home.” From presenting PPTs to sporting conventional outfits, the scholars had a distinct however particular celebration.

As the festive season gets underway in August, Bonalu has ushered in a brand new starting, displaying that one can usher in small modifications and nonetheless maintain the celebratory temper intact.

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