Bonalu, the most celebrated state festival of Telangana. This festival has special rituals, prayers, processions and celebrations in the state. From offering food to creating major traffic diversions in twin cities, this festival has it all. 

What is the Bonalu festival?

Bonalu is an annual festival celebrated in Twin Cities Hyderabad, Secunderabad and parts of Telangana State, India. It is celebrated in the month of Ashada Masam, in July or August. Special poojas are performed for Yellamma on the first and last days of the Bonalu festival. The festival is also considered a thanksgiving to the fulfillment of vows. Bonam means Bojanam or a Meal in Telugu, is an Offering to Mother Goddess. Women prepare rice cooked with Milk, Jaggery in a New brass or Earthen Pot adorned with Neelam Leaves, Turmeric, Vermilion and a Lighted Diya on the top of the Pot. Women carry the pots on their heads and make an offering of Bonam along with Turmeric-Vermilion, Bangles, and Saree to the Mother Goddess across the Temples. Bonalu involves the worship of Kali and her various forms. Goddess is worshiped as Mysamma, Pochamma, Yellamma, Peddamma, Dokkalamma, Ankalamma, Poleramma, Maremma, Nookalamma, etc. 

Traditions of Bonalu

This is a popular festival which venerates Mahakali, the Hindu goddess of time and death. It is observed across the state, but the main festivities take place in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad. The name Bonalu is derived from the Telugu word for feast, and food plays an important part in Bonalu, with meals being prepared to honor the goddess as part of special puja(acts of worship) during the festival. Mahakali is worshiped in all her forms during the festival with different temples observing different ceremonies.

Back at the start of the 19th century, the people of Hyderabad and Secunderabad were suffering from an outbreak of plague. They prayed to Mahakali to stop the plague and when the disease left the cities, the grateful citizens erected a statue to Mahakali and began the tradition of Bonalu. With a pantheon of 33 million gods to pray to, Mahakali was probably chosen as Hindu mythology says she is native to the region and traditionally returned to her ancestral home during the month of Ashada.

Bonalu has been an official state festival in Telangana since 2014.

As befits a god of death, Mahakali is commonly portrayed in a striking manner with her four arms holding weapons and a severed head. Her skin is blue with fiery red eyes and she often wears a necklace made from the skulls of demons she has killed. Bonalu is observed in the months of July or August which in the local calendar is called Ashadha Masa and goes on usually for twenty-two days. A minimum of twenty days is conceptually required to fulfill the promises given to the mother goddess by carrying out pooja on the very first day and last day. It is celebrated when crops are ready to be reaped in South India.

For every festival, our country is booked by some special sites and states. You can witness amazing celebrations on the occasion of Bonalu in places like Hyderabad where people go to temples and join in the celebrations. Secunderabad is another amazing place to witness the celebrations of Bonalu. Here women carry colorful pots over their heads in which cooked rice and jaggery is garnished to be served to mother goddess, Malkajgiri.


About more than two hundred years ago, gradual attacks of plaque on humans took place which killed thousands. From the code, the countrymen prayed to Mahakali resting in Ujjain to safeguard the citizens from impenetrable disease. An instance of compassionate goddess Mahakali, Bonalu vent the flinty disease out and saves lives of many people. Thanking Mahakali for consummation of the disease, people of Hyderabad and Secunderabad started celebrating the occasion by preparing dishes and performing dances to placate the goddess.

People wear new clothes from the very first day of the event and celebrate the new changes in their homes. The festival is celebrated on Sunday each week and the destination of observance changes every weekend. Also, it’s quite delightful to listen that the goddess appears in nine forms like maisamma who cures diseases, pochamma for evils, yellamma for deity, peddamma, dokkalamma, ankalamma as an influential god, poleramma for pre-Vedic god, Maremma and nookalamma as gramadevata.

Bonalu is celebrated at different sites every week.On the first Sunday,celebrations take place at the Golconda fort. On the second Sunday,devotees go to Mahakali temple in Secunderabad. On the third Sunday, the Matheshwari temple of Lal Darwaza in Hyderabad and AkkannaMadanna temple of Haribowli.


The celebration of Bonalu is done in a wholesome and different way. South India gets filled up with rangolis gracing designs that signify mainly goddess Mahakali and super spiritual powers associated with her. Telangana peoples decorate Mahakali’s Idol with various ornaments and decorate them with traditional clothes. Mahakali for a month gets presented with natural aromatic liquids and red dot sindoor on the forehead.

Bonalu is celebrated all across Telangana where cooked dishes are gifted to the goddess and prayers are performed in homes or temples. Villages are ornamented by lights across the roads and colorful painting pots are made to dance upon with. In the fest, pots and pots with color variations were used to decorate homes. Various pieces of music are played and women dance to pay tribute to the goddess. There are Rangoli designing competitions with rice flour in which only women participate. Rice flour is regarded as the prasadam of goddess that destroys every bad thing entering the house.

Devotees are very happy during the occasion and they make new dishes in their homes. They exchange dishes with others and enjoy a community meal. Some dishes like the delicious bagara rice recipe, jaggery pongal and tamarind rasam recipe are enjoyed. People also make delicious dishes like lemon rice and payasam. Tamarind rice and coconut rice dishes are also prepared to show off the world about the beauty of south India. South India is always known for its quality food serving and disciplined nature that definitely attracts many travelers from the world to participate in this festival.

The cities on this occasion appear like a collection of lighthouses all giving out light at the same time.People wear traditional dresses and engage in cultural activities which are an integral part of the festival. Women wear white bordered saree with choli and children wear pattu langa on the occasion. Kanchipuram style sarees are worn by women during the festival. White color lungi is the traditional attire for men along with plain long-shirt “Kurta” along with angavastram.

Bonalu is not just a festival to enjoy and visit but also a beauty of worship and happiness among individuals. This fest makes the relationship amongst people stronger. It’s a fact that Bonalu is a festival in which goat or chicken meat is cooked to be offered to Mahakali.

Bonalu is one of the best times to visit southern India as the environment is joyous and people are welcoming for the guests who want to be a part of their cultures and traditions.

How long until Bonalu this year?

Dates of Bonalu in Telangana, July 3rd, 2022 – July 24th 2022. #tohyd #hydnews


By tohyd