Dubai: Women from the South Indian state of Telangana celebrated the Navaratri festival by holding Bathukamma ceremonies at the Al Ahli Stadium and Emirates Academy in Dubai; and the Indian Social Centre in Abu Dhabi over the weekend in traditional gaiety.
Married women turned up in silk saris and dazzling jewellery while young girls in beautiful dresses accompanied their mothers for the annual festival of flowers.
Bathukammas (flower arrangements in conical shapes) in varying sizes and themes were brought and placed centre stage at the venues as women danced around them while singing traditional songs as a mark of reverence to the deity Mangala Gouri seek-ing blessings for all.
With the festival coming as it does during Indian monsoon, the Bathukammas are arranged in flowers that bloom around this time in the Telangana region.
Since, most of these flowers are difficult to find here in the UAE, the organisers have flown in a variety of colourful, fragrant flowers. These include marigolds, chrysanthemums, lily, roses, cock’s comb (gunugu puvvu in Telugu) and cassia auriculata (thangedu puvvu in Telugu). Other exotic flowers available here in the UAE were also used in stacking the Bathukammas.
In most villages of Telangana, the festival is celebrated for all nine days of Dussehra Navaratri (nine nights). But, here in the UAE, the Gulf Telangana Welfare & Cultural Association at Al Ahli Club; the Emirates Telangana Cultural Association at Emirates Academy and the Telangana Friends Association celebrated Saddula Bathukamma, the concluding day of the Bathukamma festival at Indian Social Centre.
On this day, the floral arrangements are immersed in water bodies, much like Ganesha statues at the end of the recently concluded Ganesh festival.
Women seek blessings of Gauri for peace, prosperity and protection for all with utmost devotion.
Though this is predominantly a Telangana festival, over the years people from Andhra Pradesh, the other Telugu-speaking South Indian state, also have been participating enthusiastically both in India and overseas. Here, in the UAE too they celebrated together with gusto.
Folk singer and poet Saichand and dancer Rajani participated at Al Ahli Club while Telangana legislator Rasamayi Balakrishna was the chief guest at Emirates Academy where Telugu actress and popular TV anchor Udayabhanu and singers Kokila Nagaraju and Teja Priya made the evening memorable with their songs and dancing with the festive crowds.
Saichand also participated in Abu Dhabi, and giving him company were TV anchor Udayashri and singer and dance director Kokila Nagaraju.
Gulf News spoke to Raja Srinivas, the organiser of the event in Abu Dhabi, who said: “For the last four years, we have been conducting this glorious floral festival and every year the event is being witnessed with growing presence of people from both Andhra and Telangana. This event has became a cultural bridge between two states. The prime objective of our association is to take forward the rich Telangana cultural heritage to the future generations. People present at the event felt as if they are in Telangana on the Saddula Batukamma day.”
Echoing his impressions, Pavani Aita, a housewife from Abu Dhabi, said: “Looking at the response at ISC, I have felt as if we are in our hometown Warangal, where the celebrations are held on a grand scale. It was equally as grand here in Abu Dhabi. Though it was a difficult task to source all kinds of flowers in UAE, our team has done best efforts to bring colourful flowers all the way from India, which resulted in glorious Bathukammas. This festival has brought back all the teenagers into traditional attire, which is a good sign of preservation of cultural heritage.”
Mala Gopinath, who hails from Andhra Pradesh and has participated in the Dubai Bathukamma events, said: “Bathukamma rep-resents the cultural spirit of Telangana. Historically, Bathukamma meant “festival of life” and was celebrated to thank Hindu deity Sva’s consort Parvati for her blessings for the harvest and in-come she helped generate this (current) year and to her blessings for the next year.
“The celebrations go beyond borders and being the festival of the women, and on this special day women in Dubai come in scores, and never miss to wear the traditional sari combining it with jewels and other accessories. Teenage girls wear langa-oni/half-saris/lehenga choli, combining it with jewels in order to bring out the traditional grace of the attire.”
What is Bathukamma?
It is a combination of two words: bathuku (aliveness) and amma (mother), which means live forever. It is a way of celebrating Mother Nature with flowers of the season that are found in abundance at the end of monsoon.
The flowers are arranged in a conical shape consisting of marigolds, chrysanthemums, lily, roses, cock’s comb (gunugu puvvu in Telugu) and cassia auriculata (thangedu puvvu).
Most of these flowers have medicinal properties and are used in Ayurveda.
It is celebrated for nine days ahead of Durgashtami, praying to the deity for prosperity with water, food and good health.
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.