Secunderabad and its surrounding areas came alive on Sunday as the two-day Bonalu festival got off to a colourful start at the historic Sri Ujjaini Mahankali temple. Thousands of devotees from different parts of the city thronged the temple seeking the blessings of Goddess Mahankali.
Carrying traditional ‘bonam' in gleaming vessels and clay pots, embellished with turmeric, vermillion and neem leaves, women in their traditional attire offered bonams to the Goddess. The ‘bonam' is prepared with cooked rice, jaggery and curd.
Despite elaborate arrangements, frequent visits of VIPs to the temple angered devotees, especially women.
They had to wait in long queues for hours after public figures started visiting the temple from morning.
Chief Minister K. Rosaiah, TDP president N. Chandrababu Naidu, BJP State president G. Kishan Reddy, TRS president K. Chandrasekhar Rao and other leaders and officials offered prayers.
Repeated pleas from volunteers to the authorities concerned to clear the rush inside the temple fell on deaf ears.
Some leaders even picked up arguments with the police when they were denied entry into the temple.
Mild tension prevailed when Telangana supporters raised slogans against PR president Chiranjeevi when he came to offer prayers.
Police, however, intervened and dispersed them.
As the day progressed, the decibel levels of the festivity rose higher with the drum beats and boisterous folk songs.
Later in the evening, youth associations took out ‘Phalaharam bandi' processions.
The fearsome ‘Potharajus', with faces smeared with turmeric and vermillion and wielding long whips, swayed to the beats of ‘dappu' and ‘teen maar'.
Though a few children lost their way in the large crowds at the temple, volunteers traced them with the help of police and handed them over to their families.
The festival will conclude on Monday with the much-awaited ‘Rangam' predictions followed by a procession of the presiding deity atop a caparisoned elephant.