HYDERABAD: A day after Eid festivities, it was Bonalu celebrations in full flow at the Golconda Fort. The throngs of people in white kurta and churidar on Saturday on the main thoroughfares gave way to men with bottu and women in pattu sarees. As women in festival finery and men prepared with vessels, chairs, knives, goats, chickens, rice, spices and all the ingredients required for a picnic trooped into the fort, it looked like a carnival was in progress. The jatara proper of Mahankali began in the evening from Langar Houz temple and winded its way to Golconda amidst teen maar beat which had bunches of youth dancing with gay abandon and at the same time sending some of them into a state of trance.
This was the first Sunday of Adhika Ashadam and Jagadambika Mahankali jatara was in full swing. Bonalu has been declared the official State festival.
On a day of free entry into the inner fort, the camel stables were turned into huge community kitchens as families slaughtered animals and prepared food. “The pot is heavy and it contains, rice, curd and jaggery. She will climb and offer it to the Goddess,” said Lakshmi, as her daughter prepared to climb the hill on her way to the Mahankali temple near Bala Hissar with her Bonum.
Elsewhere, under a neem tree, families slaughtered animals as per their mannat. Families turned the sprawling gardens of Rani Mahal into a huge picnic spot as they spread durries, chairs and children scampered about unmindful of the rising smell of food.
Nayani Narasimha Reddy and Padma Rao offered traditional clothes to the Goddess and the procession began. Then, the ghatam procession started to the beat of tom-toms and pipes in the afternoon and reached the inner gate of the fort only in the evening.
As the nearly bare potharajus smeared in yellow carrying ceremonial whips danced and struck threatening poses for selfies and their friends, the women called Shiva Sattulu went into a trance and mumbled deep guttural words which only the faithful could understand.
The police threw a security dragnet and even drafted the mounted contingent to keep an eye on the procession and to streamline visitors and pilgrims.
Lashkar Bonalu will be celebrated on August 2 and the oracle or Rangam will be celebrated on August 3.