STRIKING, TRADITION: Women carrying `bonam' waiting for their turn to offer puja at Mahankali temple in Secunderabad on Sunday as Bonalu festivities began in the city.
HYDERABAD: Religious fervour, bright colours, pulsating folk music and non-stop drizzle brewed a heady concoction at the Ujjaini Mahankali temple in Secunderabad on Sunday which drew thousands of devotees for the annual Ashada Jatara from all over the city and neighbouring districts.
Joining the devout in the Bonalu festivities were Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, Opposition leader N. Chandrababu Naidu and Ministers J. Geeta Reddy and J.C. Diwakar Reddy. Top police and civic officials offered prayers.
The temple doors were thrown open early in the morning and as devotees kept pouring in a steady stream, `darshan' went on till the midnight.
The celebrations began last week at the Golconda fort marking the commencement of the `Ashada masam.' After the festivities at the Mahankali temple, the celebrations will move to the old city and other localities.
Chanting hymns and prayers, balancing the `bonam' containing the traditional Bonalu offering of cooked rice, jaggery and curd delicately on their heads, women in glittering Kancheevarams made their way through the wet and slippery lanes leading to the temple.
They bumped into one another, standing in serpentine queues in the maze of bylanes leading to the temple, even as turmeric paste trickled down their rain-drenched foreheads.
Undeterred by the steady drizzle, they stood patiently awaiting their turn while the pulsating beat of drums and cymbals reverberated in the air. Men carrying the towering `ghatams' on their head, their faces smeared with turmeric and vermilion, swayed to rhythmic drumbeat.
High decibel levels
The entire temple arena was a beehive of activity, the decibel levels rising every minute, with policemen in khaki and white raincoats, private security guards and volunteers struggling to maintain order in the long queues and vendors and hawkers kicking up a feverish pitch. The city police set up closed circuit cameras all around the place to monitor the crowd movement.
The colourfully decorated temple was lit up brilliantly and the rhythmic thumping of the `teen maar' stretched into the night.
The festival, which celebrates the power of Goddess Mahankali, will have the much-awaited `rangam' on Monday, when the future of the city and the State will be `predicted' by an oracle standing atop a wet clay urn.
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