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TAGH celebrates Bathukamma Festival with record crowds, colorful stages

 Devotees celebrate Bathukamma Sri Ashtalakshmi temple Photo Credit: Murali Santhana Photography.

Devotees celebrate Bathukamma Sri Ashtalakshmi temple Photo Credit: Murali Santhana Photography.

by Rajender Aparasu
HOUSTON – Bathukamma, a “flowerful” festival of Dassera, organized by the Telangana Association of Greater Houston (TAGH) attracted record crowds of over 3,500 people at Sri Ashtalakshmi Temple on October 8th, 2016.
The TAGH, a USA registered non-profit organization, was formed in 2014 by the Non Resident Indians in the greater Houston Area to preserve the cultural identity and to contribute to the development of new state of Telangana. The organizing committee with over 50 volunteers worked hard for the last several months to bring all Houstonians together and make this great outdoor event a grand success.
Bathukamma is the state festival of Telangana. It is gaining popularity because of its widespread support and participation of the Telugu people. Although Bathukamma is primarily a women’s festival, it has become a community event for Telugu people all over the world. Bathuku in Telugu means life and amma means mother. This celebration of life honors the Goddess Gauri, the life giver, for societal prosperity and good wishes. The festival begins on the 1st day of Aswiyuja (Ashwin) and ends on 9th day – maha navami.
Bathukamma is a beautiful flower arrangement in concentric layers of seasonal blossoms in the form of a cone. The popular flowers used in the preparation of traditional Bathukamma include Gunuka, Tangedi, Lotus, Alli, Katla, Teku, and other local blooming flowers. This year Houstonians prepared over 150 Bathukammas for this occasion. It was delightful to see families bringing variety of colorful Bathukammas to Sri Ashtalakshmi Temple; these were placed on an intricately decorated stage outside the temple. Families took pride in showcasing their Bathukammas; some were small but colorful while others were large and imposing.
The event festivities started with a procession for Goddess Gauri, the life giver, from the temple to the center stage of Bathukammas. The resident priest of the Sri Ashtalakshmi temple started the proceedings by invoking Goddess Gauri for societal prosperity and good wishes. People gathered around the Bathukamma stage to participate in this annual community event to receive the blessings of Goddess Gauri.
As the pre-recoded Bathukamma songs were played, women and girls in colorful and festive sarees and dresses danced with zest around the Bathukammas. As the evening progressed, the circular group dances expanded with synchronized dancing and hand claps. These are similar to Garba dances which are performed during the Navarathri festival, but they have a typical southern flavor and style. The songs praised Goddess Gauri¸ patron Goddess of womanhood, while describing stories of common woman, their dreams, and aspirations. The festive songs and lively comments energized the participants for over two hours.
The event chairs for this year were Srinivas Mettu and Karunakar Choudavarpu. The organizing committee thanked the volunteers and team leads for various activities including parking, stage and light arrangements, sound system, nimajjanam, and food set-up.
The committee also thanked generous donors and dedicated volunteers that contributed immensely to the grand success of this free event. Acknowledgements were also made for Sri Ashtalakshmi Temple, Voice of Asia, Indo-American news, Andhra Mirchi Radio, Radio Hungama, NNN media, and Fox News. Finally, nimajjanam (water immersion of the Bathukammas) was performed at a specially arranged pool at the Sri Ashtalakshmi Temple. The evening ended with a delicious traditional dinner for over 3,500 attendees exclusively prepared by Biryani Pot, Vishala, Universal Bakery, and Mayuri Restaurants.
For future TAGH events and volunteering, please contact the organizers at taghgroup@gmail.com or visit www.tagh.org/


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