The Bathukamma Festival is one of the most renowned celebrations in the state of Telangana. The ladies deck up in colourful ‘Pattu’ sarees, decorate their hair with flowers, wear impressive jewellery, and dance around the fresh bloom of flowers.
They dance around flowers, you say? But why?
If this is your question, then you have come to the right place. Read on to find out everything about Bathukamma, its history, significance, how it is celebrated, the entire schedule and more!
What is Bathukamma?
‘Bathukamma’ literally means ‘Come back to life mother’ or some would also interpret it as ‘Mother of Life’. Both of these meanings refer to Goddess Sati who reincarnated and graced us with her presence as Goddess Parvati or Goddess Gowri.
Bathukamma is prominently celebrated in Telangana and certain parts of Andhra Pradesh. It is a nine-day festival and falls in the month of September-October according to the Hindu Satavahana Calendar. Bathukamma starts a few days before Navratri and ends when the main three days of Dussehra begin. It starts on the Mahalavya Amavasya and ends on the 9th day, which is called the ‘Saddula Bathukamma’. Durgashtami and Saddula Bathukamma coincide with each other.
Bathukamma also marks the beginning of ‘Sharath Ruthu’ or the autumn season. You will see women making flower stacks with Bathukamma flowers which are extremely special! All these colourful and beautiful flowers have medicinal properties and huge significance in Hindu mythology. Women dance around these flowers, celebrate the existence of a girl child, thank Mother Nature for being generous, and also pray to Goddess Bathukamma, believed to be a form of Goddess Gowri/ Parvati.
Now, what is the significance of celebrating this festival? What is the history? Read on to find out!
History and Significance of the Bathukamma Festival?
There are many myths, legends, and stories associated with the Bathukamma Festival. Though we cannot be sure which one of them is accurate, all of these myths are believed to have a fraction of truth and thus, all are equally respected.
According to one of the famous myths, Chola King Dharmangada and his wife Satyavati had 100 sons but all of them lost their lives on the battlefield. Heartbroken after their son’s death, the couple prayed to Goddess Lakshmi and requested her to be born in their household. The Goddess was impressed with their sincerity and blessed them with what they wished for. When the Goddess was born as human, all the sages and divine beings blessed her saying ‘Bathukamma’, which means ‘Long Live Goddess’. Their girl child faced several obstacles and had to dodge dangers and accidents. Yet, she always remained safe, thanks to the blessings of the sages and other supreme Gods.
That is why, people celebrate Bathukamma to appreciate the birth of a girl child, and women pray to Goddess Lakshmi to keep their husbands safe, households prosperous and also bring in a lot of good luck to their children. Unmarried women believe praying for 9 days during the Bathukamma festival will bring them a good bridegroom.
Another legend says that Bathukamma means ‘come back to life’. When Goddess Sati sacrificed her human body and reincarnated as Goddess Parvati, people honoured her return with the Bathukamma festival.
Lastly, people also believe that when Goddess Gowri killed Mahishasura, she was so tired that she went to sleep. She closed her eyes to rest on ‘Ashwayuja Padyami’ and no one knew when she’d wake up again. To bring her back to her senses, they called out to her as ‘Bathukamma’ which means ‘Come back to life mother’. It is said that she opened her eyes and blessed everyone on Vijayadasami, the last day of Dussehra.
Dates of Bathukamma Festival
Bathukamma is all about traditions and culture. Over the 9 days, different rituals and arrangements will be made to offer prayers to the Goddess. Throughout this time, women will dress up vibrantly in Pattu sarees, wearing jewellery and adorning their hair with jasmine flowers. Younger girls will wear half sarees and Pattu Langas. The 9th day is the most important day during Bathukamma. This is when men of the family go out to bring flowers to make the Bathukamma.
Women will take a copper plate which is also called the ‘Tambalan’. On this, they will place the flowers in concentric circles, one layer on top of the other, till we have a stack of flowers. Each household or family will make one Bathukamma. Then they present the Bathukamma to Goddess Lakshmi and seek Her blessings. Some people also place the face of Goddess Gowri on the flowers.
In the evening, the women bring their respective Bathukammas to the common courtyard and dance around the flowers. They sing devotional folk songs that praise the holiness of Goddess Bathukamma, a form of Goddess Lakshmi or Goddess Gowri. The onset of dusk is the time when they lift the Bathukammas and place them on their head. They carry the flowers to the nearest waterbody and immerse it there.
Bathukamma 2023 will start on the 14th of October and ‘Saddula Bathukamma’, or the last day of the festival is going to fall on the 22nd of October 2023.
If you are planning to visit Telangana during the festival, coincide your travel dates with the festival dates. You can book your accommodation at Treebo Hotels in Hyderabad for a comfortable stay experience.
The 9-Day Schedule of Bathukamma Festival
We already told you that the Bathukamma Festival will happen for a total of 9 days and end on Durgashtami. Here is the complete schedule and all the deets about what will be done on each day of the festival.
Day 1 – Engili Poola Bathukamma
This is the first day that marks the beginning of the Bathukamma festival. It falls on the Mahalavya Amavasya day according to the Satavahana Calendar and some in Telangana will also refer to this as Pethara Amavasya. Today, women in the household will prepare food offerings to the Goddess made of sesame seeds, rice flour, or coarsely ground wet rice combined with sesame seeds. This is also the day when families pay respects to their ancestors. Some of the food offerings will be made to the Goddess and the rest to the dead elders.
Day 2 – Atukula Bathukamma
Atukula Bathukamma marks the first day of the Ashwayuja masam or the Ashwayuja month in the Hindu Calendar. Atukulu is the Telugu word used to describe flattened rice. On this day, the woman will make prasad (prasadam in Telugu) with flattened rice and jaggery. Some would offer flattened rice and jaggery separately. Sappidi Pappu or lentil dal will also be made as a food offering to the Goddess.
Day 3 – Muddapappu Bathukamma
Muddapappu means boiled lentils that are extremely soft. You do not add any more spices or ingredients to this dal. On this day, muddapappu along with cooked rice will be offered as prasadam to the Goddess. Moreover, the Bathukamma will be made using Mudda Chamanti flowers. These are a type of chrysanthemum flowers. Along with Mudda Chamanti, it is tradition to include Thangedu puvvu, Cassia auriculate, and Gunaka puvvu, Celosia argentea.
Day 4 – Nanabiyyam Bathukamma
The fourth day of Bathukamma marks the third day of the Ashwayuja masam. On this day, women will make food offerings using soaked rice and jaggery. As the name goes, nannabiyyam means soaked rice. Some would make it with white rice while there are a portion of people who will use brown rice to make the prasadam.
Day 5 – Atla Bathukamma
‘Atlu’ in Telugu language means ‘Dosa’. The women will make a lot of dosas and offer it as prasadam to the Goddess. Later, this will be consumed by the family with their favorite chutney or curry. Note that only the dosas must be presented as an offering to the Goddess and not any chutney, curry or powder like we regularly eat at home. This day also marks the Ashwayuja Chaturthi.
Day 6 – Alaka Bathukamma
This is also known as Aligina Bathukamma. In Telugu, ‘Alaka’ or ‘Aligina’ means feeling ‘hurt’ or ‘disappointed’. According to the legend, in the olden days when Bathukamma flowers were being arranged, a piece of flesh or meat happened to be around and touched the auspicious flowers accidentally because of human error. Seeing how ending a life is a sin, the entire Bathukamma became inauspicious and the Goddess was disappointed. So, on the 6th day, people believe that the Goddess is hurt and pray to please her. No food offerings will be made today and some women also fast along with the Goddess to seek forgiveness.
Day 7 – Vepakayala Bathukamma
The 7th day is the Ashwayuja Sashti. It is also called the Durga Sashti. The offerings made on this day include Neem fruit and also sakinalu which are made in the shape of Neem fruit. Sakinalu is a popular snack made in Telangana using fresh rice flour dough that is deep-fried in oil in different shapes. On this occasion, women make it in the shape of Neem or Nim fruit.
Day 8 – Venna Muddala Bathukamma
On the 8th day of Bathukamma, devotees will offer prasadam in the form of butter balls! These are the same butter balls that Lord Krishna is very fond of. Along with butter balls, they also make dishes with sesame seeds, jaggery and milk. Some also offer rice with a lot of ghee splattered on it. This is the penultimate day of Bathukamma so men also complete the flower shopping today.
Day 9 – Saddula Bathukamma
The last day of Bathukamma is the biggest day of celebration and coincides with Durgashtami of Dussehra. Though Bathukamma flower arrangements will be made on all 8 days, the biggest Bathukkamma will be made on the 9th day! Women will start making the arrangements in the afternoon and by evening, Bathukamma will be ready. Tamarind rice, lemon rice, jaggery sweets, rice with sesame and coconut powder, finely crushed sugar and wheat flour preparations will be offered as prasadam. Some regions also make medu vada during this occasion.
All the Bathukammas made over the 9 days will be brought out to the common courtyard and all women gather around them. They dance in circles around the Bathukamma flowers and sing hymns. Finally, they carry Bathukammas on their heads for immersion at the time of dusk.
Bathukamma’s National Recognition
Telangana State has always been eyeing national recognition for Bathukamma. This is a festival that celebrates the presence of women in the world, prayers are offered to Goddess Lakshmi who is also known as ‘Shakthi’ or the Supreme Power, and people pray to the flowers for making the world so beautiful.
MLC Kavitha, daughter of Telangana State CM, also celebrated Bathukamma at Burj Khalifa, Dubai and let the world know about the significance of this festival. Burj Khalifa lit up with the Indian map, map of Telangana and a diverse array of native flowers in 2021 to celebrate Bathukamma. Delegates and local people were invited and documentaries were shown that highlighted the gorgeousness of this festival.
Now, not just in India, but people outside the country are also aware of the festival.
How To Reach Hyderabad, Telangana?
The best place to see Bathukamma celebrations is Hyderabad, the capital city of Telangana. Places like NTR Gardens and Tank Bund Road along with a few convention halls host lavish Bathukamma celebrations on the 9th day. Here’s how you can reach the place.
The TSRTC Buses are available to connect Andhra Pradesh with Telangana and several state and private buses also connect Hyderabad with Chennai, Bangalore, Aurangabad, Kerala, Mumbai, Tirupati, Hampi, and even New Delhi! Road trips are comfortable when you take the Bangalore and Mumbai Highways.
There are three railway stations in Hyderabad, namely – Hyderabad, Secunderabad and Kachiguda railway stations. All of them connect Hyderabad with New Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Bangalore, and Kerala. From the stations, you can easily find cabs and autos for your stay. Shatabdi Express, Charminar Express, Hyderabad Express, and Konark Express are some of the popular trains to look out for.
Rajiv Gandhi International Airport connects Hyderabad to almost all of the metropolitan cities in India. From New Delhi in the centre, Gujarat in the west, Agartala in the northeast to Chennai in the south, you can reach Hyderabad from all these places and more by flight.
The Bathukamma Festival is a visual treat and a time of immense happiness! Do visit Hyderabad during this time and you will definitely enjoy the festive splendour!