Not content with setting a record by unfurling the biggest national flag on the tallest flagpole, the Telangana government is now looking to add another feather on its cap by celebrating ‘Maha Bathukamma’ in a grand, record-setting manner. Over 10,000 women are expected to take part in the festivities at L.B. Stadium at Hyderabad on October 8, worshipping a giant 20-ft high Bathukamma decorated with flowers. More than 500 women from abroad are also expected to be a part of the festival.
Bathukamma literally means 'Mother Goddess come alive', and is symbolised by a flower cone. Many legends are attached to this festival, but it is ultimately a festival of hope and aspiration—a festival of flowers observed by women. A rural fete, it brings women of the village together and promote a sense of unity among them.
Navaratri is celebrated for nine days and the Bathukamma is built anew each day. Each day is called by a different name. Day one is called 'Engili Poola Bathukamma', the second day is 'Atukula Bathukamma', third is 'Muddapappu Bathukamma', fourth 'Nanabiyyam Bathukamma', fifth 'Atla Bathukamma', sixth 'Aligina Bathukamma', seventh 'Vepakayala Bathukamma', eighth 'Venna Muddala Bathukamma' and the final ninth day is called the 'Saddula Bathukamma'.
The Bathukamma is stacked on a flat base in concentric layers, leading to a conical shape, looking like a crown or the gopuram of a temple. The flowers used here are seasonal and found in forests and on roadsides. They are also considered to have medicinal properties and are known locally as Thangedu, Gunugu, Bandhi, Chemanthi, Dosa, Katla Puvvu, Beera Puvvu, Gaddipuvvu and Gummadi Puvvu.
These flower cones are carried by the women in a procession and are later immersed in the village tank. While this is a festival, traditionally celebrated by women, the men also participate by way of collecting flowers. Earlier the cones used to be small, but now with the approach of the competition season, the cones have become larger and heavier and men help here too.
Dusshera is now considered as Telangana state festival and this time the government will spend close to Rs 100 crore on celebrations. As part of the festivities, the department of tourism will decorate 40 junctions in the city, with 100 more junctions to be decorated by the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC).