Staff Reporter

While those with special passes could walk in freely, others had to stand in serpentine queues for hours

HYDERABAD: The environs of the historic Ujjaini Mahankali temple in Secunderabad came alive with thousands of devotees celebrating the annual Bonalu festival that commenced on Sunday.

Dressed in their traditional best, women carried the ‘bonam’-- a pot laced with turmeric and vermillion that contained rice, jaggery and curd, decorated with flowers and neem leaves. Balancing ‘bonam’ on their heads, they walked amidst drummers who ecstatically filled the air with pulsating ‘teen mar’ beats to which the children joyfully danced along with ‘potharajus’ while groups of policemen stationed in the area stayed vigilant all throughout.

While those who had special passes walked in freely and others had to stand in long serpentine queues that went up till the main road. “I come here every year and offer ‘bonam’ to the goddess. It has become a ritual at my home and I make it a point to come with my family members,” said Y. Suhasini, a home-maker.

With one or two persons breaking the queue complaining of drowsiness and some fainting due to fasting, boy scouts from Parsi School came to their rescue with packets of water that they were distributing throughout the day. “We come here every year and help in whatever way we can,” said K. Avinash, a student of Parsi School.

The lanes and by-lanes in Secunderabad reverberated with popular folk songs, including the all time hit song ‘Mayadari Maisammo Maisamma…’ The Gandi Maisamma temple in Rezimental Bazaar, Peddamma temple on the R.P Road and Mutyalamma temple in Kalasiguda were also decked up for the celebrations. Later in the evening, youth associations organised ‘Phalaharam Bandi’ processions.’

The leaders, who also made their presence felt at the venue, disrupted free movement of the queue.

Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, Home Minister, Sabita Indra Reddy, Backward Classes Welfare Minister, M. Mukesh Goud, Minister for Information and Tourism, J. Geeta Reddy, Minister for Health, Danam Nagender, Secunderabad MP, Anjan Kumar Yadav, Sanathnagar MLA, M. Sashidhar Reddy, Telugu Desam Party president, N. Chandrababu Naidu, Praja Rajyam president, K. Chiranjeevi, PR senior leader T. Devender Goud, Lok Satta president Jaya Prakash Narayan and senior BJP leader Bandaru Dattatreya and Amberpet MLA, G. Kishen Reddy visited the temple.

While those with special passes could walk in freely, others had to stand in serpentine queues for hours