INDIA, July 21, 2023 (The News Minute by Jagadish Babu): At the heart of Telangana’s Bonalu festival, which concluded recently, lies Bonam, an offering prepared by devotees at their homes, to express gratitude to the Goddess for her protection. Bonam is a derivative of the Sanskrit term Bhojanam, a vegetarian meal. It is served in a brass or earthen pot with rice cooked with milk, curd, sweet pancakes called Nunepolelu, and Pachipulus, a cold tamarind soup made with jaggery, cumin seeds, curry leaves, turmeric, salt, and pepper, and decorated with neem leaves, turmeric and saffron. Dressed in traditional attire, devotees humbly walk barefoot to the temple, carrying Bonam on their heads, accompanied by the rhythmic beat of drums leading the procession. In Hyderabad, the capital of Telangana, Bonalu, a festival of vibrant colors, is celebrated with enthusiasm and devotion. The festivities culminated on June 22, with the offering of the first Bonam to Golkonda Sri Jagadamba temple, marking the beginning of a month-long celebration at various Shakti temples across the city in the Ashada month of Telugu calendar.

One of the main highlights of the festival is the presence of awe-inspiring Shivashaktis and Pothurajus, who bring majestic energy to the festivities. In particular, the grace and simplicity with which Shivashaktis carry Bonam on their heads, along with various symbolic weapons in their hands, create an illusion as if the Goddess herself is walking among us. Yet, it piques the curiosity of the audience about the lives of these Shivashaktis beyond the realm of Bonalu. During the celebration, audiences are treated to captivating performances by a variety of Shivashaktis and Joginis. As implied by its name, Shivashakti refers to an individual endowed with the power of Shiva or Shakti, the two being a union of inseparable cosmic forces. This possession of divine spirit and the actions carried out by these individuals are collectively known as Sigam. The possession of a divine spirit is an essential aspect of Shaivite culture, as it is through Shivashaktis that the spiritual realm of humans connects with the supreme powers of Shiva and Shakti. Within Telangana, there exist prominent cultural manifestations of Shivashaktis, including Jogini, Matangi, Shivashakti or Shivasatti, and Pothuraju.

Much more on Shivashaktis and their distinct roles and significance at source.