It’s a chance for family and friends to get together and spend the whole day amidst nature

The auspicious Karthika Masam has begun and this commenced not only with the ritualistic Monday fasting, but the Sunday feastings “Vana Bhojanalu”.

A popular ritual during the Karthika month of the Telugu calendar, Vana Bhojanalu, which literally translates into having food in a garden/forest, are organised for family and friends to get together and spend the whole day amidst nature.

The practice of Vana Bhojanalu was a perfect mix of religion, enjoyment and science. They don’t mean just going and having food in a garden, there are a certain set of rules to be followed, says Lakshmi Atluri. Explaining about the rules she said that the garden must have a Usirikaya (Gooseberry) tree, to which one should pray along with photos of Lord Vishnu or Shiva.

“One must also make sure that they eat under the tree only as air from the Gooseberry tree in this month is considered to be very good for health,” advises Ms. Lakshmi.

In the olden days there were no particular places to go out and spend time as a family event, so vana bhojanalu were the rare occasion at which this was possible, says Adusumilli Parvathi Devi.

Enjoying a day at Bhavani Island in the midst of River Krishna in the city, she reminisced about her childhood picnics and said “All of us, family and friends, used to get up early in the morning, pack everything we needed and go to the mango farm and spend the whole day playing with friends and eating lots of delicious food”.

They were a chance for group activity leaving aside caste and creed issues, observes Sobha Rani. Now-a-days the whole purpose is lost with caste-based and political party-based Vana bhojanalu being organised, she opines.

The ferry from Berm Park to Bhavani Island and from the Guntur side did hectic business with hundreds of people landing on the island sitting under the trees and children playing shuttle or enjoying swings.

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