Dubai: The Indian Consulate auditorium in Dubai turned into an arena on Saturday evening with a riot of colours where flowers of different hues seemed to compete with the women tastefully draped in shimmering silk saris.
The occasion was Bathukamma, the annual festival of flowers, that is mainly celebrated in the South Indian state of Telangana. But, over the years women from the neighbouring state of Andhra Pradesh, too, have been participating in this festival that involves singing folk songs and dancing rhythmically and clapping round flower stacks arranged in a conical shape to celebrate nature and its abundance towards the end of monsoon.
Flowers that are found during the season are used in the making of Bathukammas. Mostly Banthi (marigold), Chamanthi (chrysanthemum), Gunugu (cock’s comb), Gulmohar, Thangedu and Gummadi are used. It is believed these seasonal flowers have many medicinal values and stave off the ailments common around this time of the year. But, since some of the native flowers are difficult to source here in the UAE, the participants had to make do with marigold, chrysanthemum, rose, lily and lotus flowers.
The festival is traditionally celebrated for nine days during the Durga Navaratri celebrations before Dussehra.
There’s a sort of competition among the women to present the best floral arrangements. And this time there were prizes for the winning ‘Bathukammas’. Around 400 people attended the event in Dubai representing the cultural spirit of Telangana.
Scores of Bathukammas were brought by participants and the main activity of the day started at 5pm and lasted well beyond 10pm culminating in their immersion in an inflatable tank; praying for her return the next year. Back home, they are immersed in rivers, ponds or farm wells.
Neelima Guarana, a housewife, said she was happy to participate in the festivity this year as she did last year, too.
“It’s a home away from home experience for me,” she said. The beautiful floral arrangements, considered to be Hindu deity Gauri, during Navratris remind us of our home country India and celebrations in our Telangana region. I personally haven’t missed home a wee bit in these celebrations as they were more colourful with enthusiastic ladies dressed up in best of their saris and decked up in beautiful jewellery,” she said.
Since the formation of Telangana in 2014, Bathukamma has been declared the state festival. The festival has been gaining popularity especially after the formation of Telangana state and is now being celebrated all over the world wherever the Telugu community has a strong presence.
The event was also celebrated at India Social Centre in Abu Dhabi on Friday. A special attraction was the presence of Sharanya Pradeep, who has acted in the recent blockbuster Telugu film ‘Fida’. She anchored the event in her typical Telangana accent that was an instant hit in the film, too. The same day, the Telugu-speaking community in Umm Al Quwain also celebrated the annual festival with gusto. It was attended by table tennis player Naina Jaiswal and former Peddapalli MP, G Vivek.
What is Bathukamma
The word Bathukamma is a combination of Bathuku (aliveness) and Amma (mother). And celebrating it with flowers is a tribute to nature. This festival follows the monsoon when seasonal flowers are in full bloom such as cock’s comb (gunuga puvvu in Telugu), marigold, chrysanthemum and gulmohar, which form the major part of the flowers in making a Bathukamma.