Culture Entertainment Health Legal Legislature Telangana Women

Villages in Telangana witness revival of Bodrai festival

Hyderabad: A cultural renaissance is taking place in Telangana villages with the revival of the age-old Bodrai panduga/festival.

And it’s catching up fast with many villages installing Bodrai in their villages and villagers in their best participating in the almost forgotten culture.

For a layman, Bodrai (stone pillar) is the first stone installed before a settlement starts in a village or any other place. Bodrai, the auspicious stone, is installed by various castes/communities in their respective places before the actual construction of dwellings begin. It is also called “Nabi Sila” Pratishtanam (consecration ceremony).

It is more than the foundation stone since it is worshipped by the villagers and settlement dwellers all through their stay on all occasions.

For some “Bodrai” is incarnation of “Shakti”, Goddess Kali, some relate it to “Nabi” (navel) and rai (stone), the navel in the middle of the body.

Kondurg Mandal in Ranga Reddy in Telangana State, about 60 km from Hyderabad and 20 km from Shadnagar, saw the revival of this ancient culture wherein five new Bodrais were installed amidst religious fervour and gaiety by the villagers.

The recent three-day festivities were attended by hundreds of people from the mandal and outside, culminating into Bonalu offerings to the Bodrai and village deities.

According to a village elder, 82-year-old Patel Rajalingam, the new Bodrais’ were installed after a gap of nearly 150 years.

“Our elders used to talk about Bodrais in Kondurg village. Old Bodrais were gone with the time. Mandal elders and leaders decided to reinstall the lost Bodrais inside Kondurg once again. The response from the people was tremendous. Kondurg village which used to be spread over about 29 acres in the past has now increased manifold due to spurt in population,” he says.

Anuradha Reddy of INTACH explains, “Bodrai panduga is an age-old festival. Bodrai literally means the first stone before a settlement starts or constructed. It is revered and locals offer pujas on various occasions. It’s part of the town planning. It’s good to see its revival in Telangana.”

Kondurg mandal turned festive as hundreds of people from all the villages irrespective of caste and creed joined the Bodrai installation ceremony amidst fanfare.

All the major temples in the mandal were tastefully decorated and villagers offered Bonalu Gods and Goddesses.

The especially made five Bodrais (black stones) were brought from Allagadda in Kurnool District of Rayalseema region in Andhra Pradesh which is famous for the black stone and rulers like Mourya, Satavahana, Chalukya, Cholas and Pallava.

The Bodrais were placed at a place and after performing pujas, they were installed at the select places in the village.

Jangam Rajeshwar, the priest who guided the Bodrai festival in Kondurg Mandal says the Bodrais were revived after a gap of nearly 150 years.

“We heard about existence of Bodrai in our village from senior citizens since long and its importance. It is believed Bodrai protects the people from diseases and brings prosperity, happiness to them. Every newlywed couple pray to Bodrai before entering their homes. In fact, Bodrai is sacred place for marriage, death or any other occasion where people offer prayers. They are installed in the middle of the villages,” he explains.

On the last day of the Bodrai Panduga, 4800 Bonalus were taken out from different localities in the village to various village deities.

Bonam means meals in Telugu, an offering to Mother Goddess. Women prepare rice cooked along with milk, jaggery in an earthen pot or brass pot, adorned with Neem leaves, turmeric and vermillion. Women carry the pot and offer Bonam to the Goddess Kali in various forms including Maisamma, Pochamma, Yellamma, Dokkalamma, Peddamma, Poleramma, Ankalamma, Maremma, Nookalamma and other Kali avatars.

Bodrai revival festival reflected Mahankali Jatra wherein women carried Bonalu led by Potharajus to the place of Bodrai in processions from various localities of the Kondurg mandal.

Despite modernisation, the caste system is openly reflected in the festivities held in Kondurg Mandal with women and men from different caste-based settlements taking out Bonalu separately.

Bonalus were taken out from Mudiraj, Scheduled Castes, Boya (fishermen), Gowda/Kurma, Balija and other communities in the mandal.

Women and men offered prayers to village deities or grama devatas Maisamma, Pochamma, Eedamma, Yellamma, Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy temple, Pancha Lingeshwara Swamy temple, Hanuman Temple and others temples.

Barring Christians, all the communities including Muslims participated in the festival, according to Rajeshwar.

Shadnagar MLA Anjaiah Yelganamoni, Kondurg Sarpanch Adi Lakshmi Yadaiah, Vice MPP Rajesh Patel, Esari Satyam, Karukonda Yadagiri, Cheelam Lingam and other mandal leaders from all political parties, Bahujana Rashtra Samithi (BRS) and activists coordinated the festival.

With general elections this year, the festivities are getting a political colour too with all parties and leaders supporting it.

Unlike other festivals, the priests put strict conditions on villagers for the three-day festivities in Kondurg. The conditions include, participation of people in pujas without fail, remaining in the village, attend pujas in traditional dress, bring in puja items like flowers, fruits, milk, coconuts etc., households should invite their daughters and other women folk for the festival and present saree/blouse, if possible, keep the homes clean and tidy etc. Pregnant women were barred from participating in the festivities.

Bodrai revival is now the trend in Telangana villages!