NAVARATHRI AND BATHUKAMMA
SIGNIFICANCE AND HISTORY
The dazzling fortnight of the Lunar month of ‘Ashvin’ observes the first day of Navarathri or the beginning of the nine-day festival which is of great importance among the Hindus. Navarathri is the combination of two words like ‘Nava’ meaning nine and ‘Rathri’ that means night according to Sanskrit. The nine incarnations of ‘Shakti’ are being worshipped by the people on these nine nights. The nine forms of ‘Shakti’ are known as Shailaputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skandamata, Kathyayini, Kaalratri, Mahagowri and Siddhidatri.
According to the legends there was a haughty demon known as ‘Mahishasura’ who was blessed with a boon by Lord Shiva that nobody would be able to kill him except a woman. He started ill-treating the Gods and became violent towards them. Being hopeless the Gods appealed to Lord Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva so that they do something to defeat the demon.
They all tried to solve the problem by combining their energies together. They compiled all their powers and created an incarnation of Shakti and named it as ‘Durga’. All of them provided respective equipment to the Goddess so that she can fight with the demon. Sitting on a wild lion which was her carrier she fought with the demon and defeated him.
Goddess Durga killed Mahishasura on the tenth day that is known as ‘Dussehra’ or ‘Vijayadashami’ when people visit their relatives and friends.
Bathukamma: Bathukamma is celebrated in the Telengana State of India especially by the women. This ritual begins on the ‘Mahalaya Amavasya’ and culminates on ‘Durgashtami’. Bathukamma is a collection of two words such as ‘Bathuku’ that means ‘life’ and ‘Amma’ meaning mother. The personification of Shakti known as ‘Goddess Gowri’ is being worshipped on this festival.
Making of Bathukamma: Bathukamma is made by gathering different types of flowers that are found in the respective season. The work of collection of these flowers is done by the men of the families and they have to go to the dense forests for this purpose. The women of the house after getting the flowers prepare a conical mountain of flowers on a wide plate or a wooden platform that is known as Bathukamma. It is a compilation of seven concentric layers of flowers. A flower of pumpkin is also positioned on the top of the structure. The structure of Goddess that is made up of turmeric is placed on the top of the conical design.
The women wake up early in the morning and after dressing themselves with new clothes and jewelleries they worship Goddess Gowri. In the evening the women gather in huge numbers in an open space with their Bathukammas and dance around them with clapping and singing.
‘Pedda Bathukamma’ or ‘Saddulu Bathukamm’ is the last day of the event. Bathukammas of slight a bigger size is prepared by the women on this day and are being worshipped. After offering the puja the Bathukammas are immersed in the nearest water bodies.
A mixture of several items known as ‘Naivedyam’ is offered to the Goddess on all the nine days and thereafter is consumed by the people. The ‘Naivedyam’ comprises of Wheat, Rice, Sorghum, Bajra, Black Gram, Bengal Gram, Green Gram, Corn, Groundnuts, Cashew nut, Sesame, Jaggery and Milk. A vegetarian food is eaten after the completion of the event.