Folklore mixed with tradition at TAMA Dussehra & Bathukamma celebrations
(Photos: Suresh Volam, Sri Photos)
A magical splash of colors. A well-coordinated display of music and dance. A perfect blend of joy and ecstasy … such was the indescribable mood and tone set at the first-ever Dussehra & Bathukamma celebration by Telugu Association of Metro Atlanta (TAMA) on Saturday, September 28, 2019, at DeSana Middle School, Alpharetta, Georgia.
Bathukamma (meaning ‘Oh Goddess, come back to life’) is a festival celebrated by Telugu speaking people all over the world during September or October (Badhrapada Masam). Women create cone-shaped bathukammas using seven layers of colorful flowers, topped by Gouramma made with turmeric and two incense sticks. This Bathukamma is played for nine days followed by Vijaya Dashami, also known as Dussehra. This festival is very popular in the Telangana region.
Enthusiasts in colorful festive attire started arriving at TAMA’s program from 2 pm. By 3:30 pm the hall was filled with about 1,700 women, men, kids, and visiting parents. Audience members were “glued to their seats” for the songs and dance dramas. Dances were choreographed by respected teachers such as Sasikala Penumarthy from Academy of Kuchipudi Dance, Neelima Gaddamanugu from Nataraja Natyanjali Kuchipudi Dance Academy, Hema Shilpa Uppala from Indian Classical Dance Academy, Santhi Medicharla from Suswara Sangeetha Vidyalayam, Sreedevi Dadithota from Natya Abhinaya Dance Academy, Srivalli Sridhar from Raagam Taalam Pallavi, and Madhavi Dasyam from Kala Vedika Academy. Emcees Raaga Vahini and KT Sravanthi did an awesome job.
(Left) The guest singer, Dr. Srinivas Linga (center, with mic), choreographer, folk singer, dappu and drums artist, who came from India exclusively for this show, was simply brilliant and rocked the show!
After being introduced by Subbarao Maddali, Cultural Secretary of TAMA, Dr. Srinivas connected immediately with the audience, addressing women affectionately as akkalu and men as annalu. He sang several folk numbers popular in three different regions of the Telugu States, Rayalaseema, Coastal Andhra, and Telangana. He asked trivia questions about Bathukamma and gave prizes for correct answers.
Around 5:30 pm the actual Bathukamma Aata Paata began: women place all their bathukammas and form a circle around them, moving towards the right while singing and dancing with synchronized steps and claps. About 500 women and 100 kids participated.
Dr. Srinivas sang dozens of songs while women played Bathukamma.
Around 7 pm before the bathukammas were immersed (nimajjanam) outside, prizes were distributed to winners. Sneha Bukkarayasamudram, a community volunteer, along with Kanaka Lakshmi Chintala and Geeta Vedula selected a few bathukammas based on certain criteria. There were two categories with three levels of prizes.
In some celebrations, the image of Gouramma is not immersed; each married woman dips her Gouramma image in the now holy water and applies a paste of this on her mangalsutra (the sacred thread or knot that marks the solemnization of marriage) so that her husband is protected from evil and from ill fate. The women also smear their cheeks and neck with the paste.
Kolaatam (dandiya) followed for more than two hours. Meanwhile, attendees enjoyed visiting about two dozen stalls selling clothes, ornaments, bangles, snacks, etc.
Food service went on from about 6:30pm to 10:30pm and beyond. It was quite a task! About 50 volunteers served about 1,700 people who lined up for free dinner. Many said they appreciated the food and flawless service.
TAMA officers and volunteers spent countless hours with enthusiasm. Their hard work paid off in happiness and soul-satisfaction, which showed on their faces. This new event was one of several festive, community, educative, and sports events that TAMA presents throughout the year. All TAMA events are open to the public, and one doesn't need to be a TAMA member or to speak Telugu to come and enjoy.
Website Bonus Feature
Folk Singer, Choreographer, and Instrumentalist Dr. Srinivas Linga gari invitation for TAMA Dasara & Bathukamma Vedukalu on Sept 28th Saturday 2 pm to 9 pm @ DeSana Middle School in Alpharetta, GA.
Dr Sinivas Linga gari invitation for TAMA Dasara & Bathukamma Vedukalu
Bathukamma Dance Coordination at TAMA Dussehra & Bathukamma Event
Bathukamma Dance @ TAMA Dasara & Bathukamma Vedukalu
Dr. Srinivas Linga Garu leading Bathukamma Nimajjanam with Traditional Folk Songs at #TAMA Dasara & Bathukamma Vedukalu
Traditional Bathukamma Immersion @ TAMA Dasara & Bathukamma Vedukalu
Kolaatam Dance @ TAMA Dasara & Bathukamma Vedukalu
TAMA President Venkateswara Rao (Venky) Gadde thanked all the attendees, especially women, for making the celebration a truly memorable event in the history of the organization.
Several departments, Registration, Food, Cultural Programs, Venue Logistics, Vendor Stalls, Sponsorships, etc., were handled by Venky Gadde, Bharath Maddineni, Innaiah Yenumula, Priya Balusu, Subbarao Maddali, Sai Ram Karumanchi, Aditya Gali, Ravi Kalli, Bilhan Alapati, Suresh Bandaru, Rupendra Vemulapalli, Bharath Avirneni, Srivalli Sridhar, Vinay Maddinei, Rajasekhar Chunduri, Nagesh Doddaka, Kamal Satuluru, Srinivas Uppu, Viju Chiluveru, Mahesh Pawar, Ram Maddi, Ramki Chowdarapu, Ramesh Kotike, Srinivas Kukkadapu, Ramesh Vennelakanti, Bala Narayana Madda, Srinivas Lavu, Anjaiah Chowdary Lavu, Anil Yalamanchilil, Murali Boddu, Venkat Meesala, Vijay Ravilla, Suresh Dulipudi, Mohan Edara, Srinivas GV, Sudhakar Borra, Yashwanth Jonnalagadda, Vijay Babu Kotha, Prabhakar Koppolu, Nagaraju, Naveen, Sai Prashanth, Susruth, Santosh Kiran Varada, Saritha, Sreedevi, Vijay, Siva Malempati, Vinod Reddy Tupili, Gowridhar Madu, Satya Nagendar Guthula, Raj Kiran Moota, and many more.
Two prizes were sponsored by realtor Ramesh Annabathula and TAMA Board Director Viju Chiluveru. Bathukamma trivia prizes were sponsored by Priya Balusu, and kolaatam sticks were sponsored by Mahesh Pawar.
Sponsors and patrons who made this a unique celebration include Godavari Restaurant, Magnum Opus IT, Delta Information Systems Inc., Amerind Solutions and Dr. Nagendra Srinivas Kodali.
Media support was extended by Shiva Ramadgu from TV9, Praveen Puram from TV5 and ManaTV, and Anjali Chhabria from TV Asia.
Audio/lighting was by Srinivas Durgam, Photography by Suresh Volam,
Bathukamma theme stage decoration and Dussehra theme photo booth by Udaya Etooru.
[The article above is a Website Bonus Feature, appearing only on the website for October 2019, not in the print/digital issues. Published October 9, 2019.
It was later published in the print/digital issues in November 2019.]
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