BY UMA BANDA
Photos by Sri Photos
Atlanta, GA, November 1, 2023: For the very first time, Georgia Governor Brian P. Kemp proclaimed the 3rd week of October (15 – 23), 2023, as the “Bathukamma, A Flower Festival And Telangana Heritage Week,” recognizing the contributions of the Telugu language-speaking Telangana community from India, from across the state of Georgia and across the USA. No other state in the USA has recognized the Bathukamma festival and issued a proclamation so far. Bathukamma is celebrated worldwide by the people of Telangana state, India. The Bathukamma festival represents the cultural spirit of the Telangana community.
Bathukamma Panduga, or the festival of life, is a 9-day floral festival of Telangana, which occurs this year from October 15th to October 23rd. The festival is a celebration of the inherent relationship human beings share with the vital elements of earth and water. The festival is filled with seasonal flowers, women folk dancing with joy and gaiety, and family reunions.
The proclamation signed by the Georgia Governor states, “Telangana State of India has long been the home for diverse languages and cultures. It stands as a bedrock of India’s pluralism and inclusiveness. The history of Telangana state is almost 5,000 years old and demonstrates many of India’s arts, cultures, traditions, and religions. The contribution of the Telangana community towards the vibrancy and vitality of the state of Georgia has been significant throughout its various organizations and events. Georgia’s Telangana community has enriched Georgia’s cultural diversity. In addition, they are key participants in Georgia’s progress in the fields of medicine, engineering, politics, law, culture, tradition, and community welfare.”
Ritesh Desai, Georgia’s senior Republican and commissioner of Georgians First Commission, who was also on the transition team for the Governor of Georgia, presented the proclamation to Bapu Reddy, Dr. Nandini Reddy, and other Global Telangana Association (GTA) officials in the strong presence of thousands of people at the mega Bathukamma festival organized by GTA on Saturday, October 21 at Denmark High School, Alpharetta. Other prominent guests included a host of county and state elected officials, including our very own Johns Creek city council members Bob Erramilli and Dilip Tunki.
Sharing in the joy of this historic and proud moment was a well-known journalist, Ravi Ponangi, who, at the request of Bapu Reddy of GTA, drafted the proclamation and initiated a formal request to the Georgia Governor to recognize October 15th to October 23rd, 2023, as the Bathukamma Festival. He said, “This proclamation is a memorable tribute to those like Late G.S. Reddy, Late Jagan Mohan Rao, Narender Reddy, Ratnakar Reddy, Dr. Satyanarayana Reddy, Bala Indurti, Karunakar Asireddy, and others who have contributed and laid the foundation for the furtherance of Telangana culture and heritage in a foreign land, particularly in Atlanta. This paved the way for a strong and vibrant Telangana community in Georgia. They are pioneers among the very few in nurturing national organizations like ATA, TDF, and local organizations TAMA, GATA, and GATes, along with other prominent personalities.”
Bathukamma festivities kicked off in Atlanta with TAMA’s Dasara and Bathukamma Sambaraalu on October 15th, followed by various Bathukamma celebrations organized by TDF, GTA, GATes, and others across Georgia. All these events are celebrated with cultural and devotional fervor. During these celebrations, there were dance performances, music, fashion shows, shopping, and a variety of entertainment as thousands, alongside mainstream locals, flocked to witness the happenings.
The celebration of Bathukamma honors women and represents the Goddess Gauri, who protects them. During the festival, women of all ages come together to create these beautiful floral stacks, transcending boundaries of caste, creed, and social status. Women prepared a variety of traditional dishes, which are offered to the Goddess and then distributed among the community.
After worshipping Goddess Bathukamma for nine days, thousands of women bid farewell to a huge Saddula Bathukamma made up of various flowers of myriad colors at the Greater Atlanta Telangana Society’s (GATes) daylong event held on Sunday, October 22, in the open grounds of Forsyth Central High School, Cumming. In the evening, thousands of women congregated, with colorful Bathukammas made up of various flowers in front of the huge Saddula Bathukamma. Under the guidance of the priest Boggaram Ravishankar, women worshipped the Goddess and sang songs paying tribute to Goddess Gowri with grace. GATes distributed prizes to those who won the best and most colorfully decorated Bathukammas. The Governor’s proclamation was presented to the GATes Chairman Srinivas Parsa and President Janardhan Pannela by Ritesh Desai, Dr. Srini Gangasani, Vice chair of Georgia Composite Medical Board, and the journalist Ravi Ponangi. While presenting the Governor’s proclamation to GATes officials, Ritesh Desai expressed his joy in attending the two Bathukamma festivals this year, saying, “This is truly exciting. We are one community! Let’s celebrate and share our unity and appreciate all our differences. Thank you for all that you do to maintain and preserve our culture.” He also reminded that Georgia Governor Kemp is friendly to our community and issued a similar proclamation in 2021 recognizing the Telugu Lunar calendar New Year “UGADI.”
Many dignitaries, community leaders, and ecstatic individuals holding the highest offices expressed their happiness at getting recognition for Telangana culture and heritage in a foreign land and said they are proud to hear this good news during the 9-day Bathukamma festival.