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Bonalu: India celebrates Hindu festival to honour Goddess Mahankali

The festivities begin on the first Sunday of ‘Aashaad Maas’ as per the South Indian calendar at the Golconda Mahankali temple situated within the Golconda Fort

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TOPSHOTS An Indian artist dressed as Hindu Goddess MahaKali performs while in a trance during the final procession of the eleven-day traditional festival of 'Bonalu', a ritual offering to the goddess MahaKali, at Sri Akkanna Madanna Mahankali Temple in Hyderabad on July, 21 2014. The Goddess is honoured mostly by women during Bonalu festival with offerings of food and dancing. AFP PHOTO / Noah SEELAMNOAH SEELAM/AFP/Getty
  • The word ‘Bonalu’ means a meal or a feast in Telugu
  • The history of this festival celebrated in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad that dates back to 1813
  • In 2016, the Bonalu Jatra 2016 dates are July 10, July 17, July 24 and July 31

One of the central tenets of Hinduism is the concept of the Shakti, the feminine energy embodied by the universal mother who is revered in various forms across India. Currently, the mother goddess is being celebrated in the southern state of Telangana with an array of rituals that comprise the festival of Bonalu dedicated to Goddess Mahankali.

The word ‘Bonalu’ means a meal or a feast in Telugu. It signifies the offering of rice cooked in milk and jaggery in new earthen pots which are presented to the goddess along with vermillion, turmeric, and bangles.

The whole India celebrates this Hindu Festival but on different dates  and in different months. In Hyderabad and Secunderabad in Telangana, Bonalu is dedicated to Mother Goddess (Shakti) and is observed in the month of Ashada (July – August). This festival is observed on in the temples of Telangana on the Sundays, in particular, in the Ashada month (June – July). Thus, the Bonalu Jatra 2016 dates are July 10, July 17, July 24 and July 31. This year in the Ujjaini Mahankali Temple, it will be celebrated on July 24 and the Rangam is on July 25.

Women celebrating Bonalu Festival. Image source: www.newindianexpress.com
Women celebrating Bonalu Festival. Image source: www.newindianexpress.com

The history of this festival celebrated in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad that dates back to 1813 when the plague broke out in the region. A military battalion from Hyderabad that was stationed in Ujjain at that time prayed to Mahankali of Ujjain for deliverance. The goddess granted their wish. To express their gratitude and devotion, the battalion had an idol of her installed and offered her the ‘Bonalu’. The tradition continues even today.

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According to another version, ‘Bonalu’ has its origin in the mythological belief that during the Aashada Month Mahankali comes back to her parental home. A feast is then organised to pamper her just as a married daughter visiting home would be and therefore a lot of food is offered to the Deity.

The festivities begin on the first Sunday of ‘Aashaad Maas’ as per the South Indian calendar at the Golconda Mahankali temple situated within the Golconda Fort. In the procession women, dressed in traditional attire, take the ‘Bonalu’ on their heads while they dance to the drum beats.

Pothuraju, the goddess' brother, dancing to the drums (Wikimedia Commons)
A man dressed as Pothuraju, the goddess’ brother, dancing to the drums. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

It is believed that while in the procession, women are possessed by the divine mother. To pacify the spirit, devotees sprinkle water on their feet and offer ‘Thottelus’ made of colored paper and bamboo sticks. Pothuraju, the goddess’ brother, lashes the whip and propels them forward. His role is played by bare-bodied, well-built man, smeared in vermillion and turmeric.

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A temple priest carries the Ghatam, a copper pot decorated in the form of the mother goddess, to its successive destinations which include Secunderabad’s Ujjaini Mahakali temple (also called as Lashkar Bonalu), Balkampet Yellama temple and then Sri Simhavahini Mahankali temple and Sri Akkanna and Madanna Mahankali temple at Lal Darwaza in the old city of Hyderabad. The ‘Ghatam’ is eventually immersed in the waters.

Another important element of the festival is the ‘Rangam’ or the Oracle where a woman foretells the events of the next year by invoking the spirit of Mahankali on herself.

– by Ashee Sharma of NewsGram

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Dhaka, October 22, 2017 : India overcame Malaysia 2-1 in the final on Sunday to win the Asia Cup hockey championship for the third time.

Ramandeep Singh (3rd minute) and Lalit Upadhyay (29th) scored for India. Shahril Saabah (50th minute) scored the reducer for Malaysia. (IANS)

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Diwali Puja 2017: Everything You Need To Know About Timings, Muhurat

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Ganesh-Lakshmi are worshipped
Ganesh-Lakshmi are worshipped by devotees on the day of Diwali. Pixabay

New Delhi, October 18, 2017: Diwali is around the corner and everyone is busy with the preparations. On the eve of Diwali, the most important ritual is to perform Ganesh-Lakshmi Puja during the right muhurat (time) and with the right rituals(vidhi).

Here are some of the things you must take care of:

Ganesh-Lakshmi Puja Rituals

It is important that on the day of Diwali, you wake up early in the morning and pay homage to your ancestors and worship gods of your family. It is advised to observe a day-long-fast until the Ganesh-Lakshmi puja is performed in the evening.

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Ganesh-Lakshmi Puja kalash. Wikimedia

Preparations For Ganesh-Lakshmi Puja

Families can embellish their home and office with Asoka and Marigold flowers, banana and mango leave on the day of the puja. Mangal Kalash covered with unpeeled coconut should be placed at both side of the main entrance of your house.

For puja preparation, place at the right hand side a red cloth on a hoisted platform and put in idols of Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Ganesh on it after gracing them with jewellery and clothes. Once this is done, Navgraha gods must be placed on the left hand side on a hoisted platform under white cloth. Prepare carefully nine slots of Akshata (unbroken rice) for placing Navgraha on white cloth and sixteen slots of wheat must prepared for the red cloth. You should perform puja with all the important rituals.

Idols of Ganesh-lakshmi are being worshipped on the eve of Diwali. Wikimedia

Timings (Muhurat) for Lakshmi Puja

Pradosh Kaal muhurat is the time during which puja needs to be performed. It starts after sunset and lasts for about 2 hours and 24 minutes. Goddess Lakshmi will stay in your home if you perform Lakshmi puja in the Pradosh Kaal when it is Sthir Lagna time. Sthir refers to ‘immovable.’  Before you do the puja, make sure you find out Pradosh Kaal (time) for your city or area. It is important that you know the right time to perform the puja.

– prepared by Siddheshwar Sharma. Twitter: @MancSiddheshwar

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Hinduism is Not an Official or Preferred Religion in Any Country of The World, Says a New Report

Though Hinduism is the third largest religion of the world, it is not the official state religion of any country according to a Pew Research Center Report

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Hinduism
Hinduism is not an official religion of any country in the world. Instagram.
  • No country has declared Hinduism as its official state religion – despite India being an influential Hindu political party
  • Hinduism is not an official or preferred religion in any country of the world, according to a Pew Research Center report.
  • 53% of 199 nations considered in the study don’t have an official religion
  • 80 countries are assigned either an “official religion” or “preferred religion”

Nevada, USA, October 16: Hinduism is the primeval and third largest religion of the world with about 1.1 billion followers of moksh (liberation) being its utmost desire of life. India is among the category of nations where the government do not have an official or preferred religion.

Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank headquartered in Washington DC that aims to inform the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world.

The report states that a country’s official religion is regarded as a legacy of its past and present privileges granted by the state. And a few other countries fall on the other side of the gamut, and propagate their religion as the ‘official religion’, making it a compulsion for all citizens.

It adds up on the context of allocation that more than eight-in-ten countries (86%) provide financial support or resources for religious education programs and religious schools that tend to benefit the official religion.

Hinduism
Islam is the most practiced official religion of the world. Instagram.

Commenting on Hinduism, the report states:

In 2015, Nepal came close to enshrining Hinduism, but got rejected of a constitutional amendment due to a conflict between pro-Hindu protesters and state police.

Although India has no official or preferred religion as mentioned in the Constitution,it was found by PEW that in India the intensity of government constraints and social antagonism involving religion was at a peak. “Nigeria, India, Russia, Pakistan and Egypt had the highest levels of social hostilities involving religion among the 25 most populous countries in 2015. All fell into the “very high” hostilities category,” the report added.

As per the 2011 census, it was found that 79.8% of the Indian population idealizes Hinduism and 14.2% practices to Islam, while the rest 6% pursuit other religions.

While Hinduism stands up with the majority, Article 25 of the Constitution of India contributes secularism allowing for religious freedom and allows every Indian to practice his/her religion, without any intervention by the community or the government.

Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, President of Universal Society of Hinduism, applauded the Hindu community for their benefaction to the society and advised Hindus to concentrate on inner purity, attract spirituality towards youth and children, stay far from the greed, and always keep God in the life.

According to Pew, these are “places where government officials seek to control worship practices, public expressions of religion and political activity by religious groups”.

-by Bhavana Rathi of NewsGram.  She can be reached @tweet_bhavana