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Georgia Governor Issues Proclamation Recognizing Batukamma, A Flower Festival

By Uma Banda

Atlanta, GA: For the very first time Georgia Governor Brain 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 of Telangana state of India from across the state of Georgia and across USA. No other state in USA recognized Bathukamma festival and issued proclamation so far. Bathukamma is celebrated world over by the people of Telangana state of India. Bathukamma festival represents cultural spirit of 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, family reunions.

The proclamation signed by 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. The 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, legal, culture and tradition, and community welfare.

Ritesh Desai, Georgia’s senior Republican and commissioner of Georgians First Commission who was also in 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 crowds at mega Bathukamma festival organized by GTA on Saturday, October 21 at Denmark High School, Alpharetta. Other prominent guests included are host of county and state elected officials that include our very own Johns Creek city council members Bob Erramilli and Dilip Tunki.

Sharing in the joy of this historic and proud moment was well known journalist Ravi Ponangi who on the request of Bapu Reddy of GTA, drafted the proclamation and initiated a formal request to Georgia Governor to recognize October 15th to October 23rd 2023 as “BATHUKAMMA, A FLOWER FESTIVAL AND TELANGANA HERITAGE WEEK”. 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 foundation for the furtherance of the 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 very few in nurturing national organizations like ATA, TDF and local organizations TAMA, GATA and GATes along with other prominent personalities.

Bathukamma, a 9-day floral festival in Atlanta kicked off with TAMA’s Dasara and Bathukamma Sambaraalu on October 15th followed by various Bathukamma celebrations organized by TDF, GTA, GATes and Bathukamma festivals are also celebrated in different cities 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 entertainments as thousands besides along with mainstream locals’ flock witnessed 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 huge Saddula Bathukamma made up of various flowers of myriad colors at Greater Atlanta Telangana Society’s (GATes) daylong event that was held on Sunday, October 22 in the open grounds of Forsyth Central High School, Cumming. In the evening, thousands of women congregated, with colorful Batukammas made up of various flowers in front of the huge Saddula Bathukamma. In 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 won the best and 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 said “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 similar proclamation in 2021 recognizing Telugu Lunar calendar New Year “UGADI”.

Many dignitaries, community leaders and ecstatic individuals who are holding highest offices expressed their happiness on getting recognition to Telangana culture and Heritage in a foreign land and said they are proud to know of this good news during 9-day Bathukamma festival.

' Oct-30-2023