The famous Bonalu festival of twin cities has millions of patrons. Beginning with the Mahankali temple situated in Golconda fort, each weekend of Ashada masam (July/August) it is celebrated in different parts of the twin cities. One of the reasons for celebrating Bonalu is the belief that the Goddess visits her maternal home every year during Ashada masam. The devotees show their respect and gratitude by showering her with offerings of food. It is a tradition for many Telugu people to invite their newly wedded daughters’ home during the same month and the bride is showered with gifts and silks when she leaves.
The festival is followed by Rangam – forecasting the year ahead. One of the ardent female devotees forecasts by predicting that year’s harvests, rainfall, diseases etc which can be both a warning and uplifting for the common man (as the majority of the vocations are still dependent on Mother Nature). Stories are told and re-told making it not possible to trace one as the original. Well, most of these still convey one message communal harmony by dedicating oneself to the Goddess, inviting the monsoon after months of dry heat, and celebrating the oncoming harvest year.
It’s the culture, tradition and ritual for tons of Hyderabadis. It has been for the past century or so since the small Mahannkali temple in Secunderabad gained its prominence. It is also the place where old world businesses still flourish. Before the era of Kalaniketan or such mega stores, we roamed the streets around Mahankali Temple in Secunderabad for wedding shopping. Yards of silk sold in the meticulously lined fabric stores is still a major attraction, making one wonder why such variety is missing in the new age wedding malls.