Townsville is seeing a growth in the multicultural community specially from India. This year the Telugu community gathered to celebrate the iconic cultural event Bathukamma Festival at Riverside Community Center in Douglas.
Bathukamma is floral festival celebrated predominantly by the Telangana for nine days, ending on 6 October evening. Bathukamma is a beautiful flower stack, arranged with different unique seasonal flowers most of them with medicinal values, in seven concentric layers in the shape of temple gopuram. In Telugu, ‘Bathukamma’ means ‘Mother Goddess come Alive’. Historically, bathukamma meant “festival of life” and was celebrated to thank Goddess Parvati for her blessings for the crop harvest and income she helped generate and again ask her blessing for the years to come.
Women from multicultural communities draped in colorful saris came together to offer prayers to Maa Gouri in the form of a bathukamma. Before placing the bathukamma on floor the members of the community offer prayers and decorate the floor with rangolis. The women then stand in a circle around the bathukamma and sing and dance to songs of Gouramma. After the prayers, the bathukamma is immersed in water and blessings are exchanged in the form of Pasupu (Haldi) offered to Bathukamma and prasadam to those gathered.
Women have to fast until the bathukamma is prepared and offered prasad before they can eat. “My mother taught how to create a bathukamma and now I have a daughter who really enjoys practicing our culture,” says Sunitha Narayana, who has been practising this ritual since childhood. “The reason for the celebration here in Townsville is to educate our children about our traditions. We all gather in people’s homes and make the bathukammas.”
Another member of the community, Raghava Karnay prepared a three foot high bathukamma with a lot of effort, making this piece of art with locally available material. “It was extremely challenging but we got a lot of appreciation,” says Raghava.
Rama Venkateshwar Rao who moved here from Brisbane a couple of years ago says she enjoys the cultural exchange with other Indian communities in Townsville. “Though the Telugu community in Townsville is small compared to Brisbane we really enjoy the events in Townsville,” she says.
The event was organised by the Townsville Telugu Group.
Why we love bathukamma
- “We wait all year for this festival as this is one of our favorite cultural events in Townsville. We enjoy dancing and singing along with our friends.”
— Sharada and Ashwini
- “This is the first time we are participating in bathukamma celebrations and I really enjoyed being part of it and meeting new members of the community.”
— Prashanthi Garu
- “This is one of the best and most fun ways to impart knowledge on our culture to our kids.”
— Mamatha Krishna