Prime Minister hails Telanganites in New Zealand

More than 2000 people attend traditional ceremony

Venkat Raman

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has paid rich tributes to the people of Telangana in New Zealand, stating that their hard work and penchant for progress were inspiring.

“I have heard a lot about the people of this great State in India and I have witnessed their unity and loyalty. I remember Telangana Association of New Zealand (TANZ) President Kalyan Rao Kasuganti waiting at the steps of Parliament Buildings to greet me as I drove to the Beehive from the Residence of Governor General after being sworn in as the Prime Minister about a year ago (October 26, 2017),” she said.

Maha Bathukamma Festival

Ms Ardern was the Chief Guest at the ‘Maha Bathukamma Festival’ organised by TANZ on Friday, October 12, 2018 at Mt Eden War Memorial Hall, 489 Dominion Road, Mount Eden, Auckland.

“I understand that ‘Maha Bathukamma’ Festival is celebrated to worship ‘Mother Goddess,’ and that women are the principal participants. I am delighted to see so many women of Telangana here. I wish all the people of this illustrious States well. Jai Telangana!” she said.

Later, she danced with the women around the floral decorations that are central to the ‘Maha Bathukamma Festival.’

Ethnic Communities Minister Jenny Salesa, Parliamentary Undersecretary to Ethnic Communities Michael Wood, National MPs Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi and Dr Parmjeet Parmar were among the main guests at the event which was attended by more than 2000 people.

First PM in Telangana history

Earlier, Ms Ardern was received with traditional ‘Kumbhabhishekam’ by Parameswaran Chandru (Chief Priest at the Lord Ganesha Temple in Papakura) by Mr Kasuganti, TANZ Vice-President Uma Kumari Salvaji Rachakonda and other members of the Executive Committee.

Speaking at the event, Mr Kasuganti read out a message from Telangana Non-Resident Indian Affairs Minister Kalvakuntla Taraka Rama Rao greeting Ms Ardern.

“Jacinda Ardern is the first Prime Minister of a country to attend the ‘Maha Bathukamma Festival’ anywhere in the world. The people of Telangana are gratified by her gesture,” Mr Rao said in his message.

Mr Kasuganti praised Chief Minister K C Rao and said that under his great leadership the State of Telangana registered significant developments.

About the Festival of Flowers

As reported earlier, women of Telangana mark the ‘Maha Bathukamma,’ denoting the arrival of ‘The Mother Goddess,’ during Navaratri (‘Nine Nights),’ which occurs during September-October every year. The Festival incorporates ‘Bathukamma Panduga,’ the second most important observance after ‘Vijaya Dashami,’ or the last day of Dassera.

Representingthe cultural spirit of Telangana,‘Bathukamma’ is a beautiful flower stack, arranged with different unique seasonal flowers, most of them with medicinal values, in seven concentric layers in the shape of Temple Gopuram (Tower).

Social Harmony

As well as being a religious festival, ‘Bathukamma’ lifts the spirit of the community to a state of solidarity and social harmony. The rituals and symbolisms of the Festival enshrine the ethos of gender equality and mutual respect and a harmonious balance of all castes and social groups.

During Bathukamma Navaratri, men and boys of households would pick flowers or purchase them, to be placed in decorative formats by women. Families invite their daughters who away as married or working women to their homes to participate in the Festival.

Vivacity at Sunset

The vivacity of the celebrations peaks as sunset approaches. Women, in their traditional attire, will carry their Bathukamma to the streets, place them at a public place such as a playground or a park and decorate them as they sing and dance.

The songs would reflect the history, heritage and traditions of the land handed down from generation to generation, each generation adding its own flavour to produce a synthesis between the ancient and the zeitgeist (spirit of times).

Hours later, the Bathukamma would be carried to the nearest pond, canal or river and immersed, symbolising a full circle of life, seasons and times.

  1. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern participating in a brief Pooja conducted by Priest Parameswaran Chandru at the ‘Maha Bathukamma Festival’ of Telangana Association of New Zealand
  2. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern with TANZ President Kalyan Rao Kasuganti and other members of the Executive Committee at the Festival
  3. More than 2000 guests (mainly women) participated in the ‘Maha Bathukamma Festival.’

(Pictures for Indian Newslink by Ronny Kumaran)

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