Iam a bit more ino the Folk cultures so naturally attracted by this festival, BATHUKAMMA a festival celebrated in the western part of the Andhra.
“This is also a woman-centric nine-day celebration that has a history that dates back to the16th Century. Water is an essential part of this fest, which falls immediately after the monsoon. It is basically a flower arrangement pattern with specifications, which have in time declined. Vegetable flowers like ridge gourd, ash gourd (both yellow), spinach or lettuce (white) were used originally as they were feather light to float in the waters of the village lake eventually.
“The white lettuce flower called gunugu possesses eco-balance according to botanists. Flowers used by women to adorn their hair are anathema for decorating the rows of spiral-shaped Bathukamma. The practice is an extension of the mother goddess concept so much a part of the indigenous races of India,” explains Bharath Bhushan. The steady decline in the stipulated flowers due to the near-drought conditions in Telangana for the past couple of years saw bougainvilleas, marigolds and hibiscus take the place of the vegetable flowers and in certain parts artificial paper cut models replace the natural Bathukamma in a desperate attempt to celebrate the fest. Commitment and fear drive one to arrange the flower theme in the name of the goddess of fertility, marital bliss and longevity come what may.
The fest, which coincides with Dasara is not prevalent in other parts of Andhra. The frames mirror the live, vibrant Telangana village folk. Women busy in arranging their Bathukamma, a potter’s wife with her flower spiral, the final day procession in various regions and the backdrop of a gadi (an erstwhile zamindari dwelling) in the Nizamabad region with a ceremonial Bathukamma in the foreground make for a captivating rustic festival visual with fine distinctions.
Heres a view from one of the Chronicling photographers about the changing face of the festival, the Socio econmic.