The festival of Batkamma starts just after Ganesh Chaturti in September. This goes on for a month, celebrating a plentiful harvest. This festival of flowers is peculiar to Telangana region when women perform a dance around a wooden tray filled with flowers, which is later taken to a pond and allowed to float in the water.
I walked up the apartment steps and landed in front of my neighbour who had already decorated the flowers on a tray. I was returning after a visit to my friend and had no idea what was going on. The women folk were surprised at the fact that I didn't know that it was Batkamma festival. Well, I am not a practicing Hindu for one reason, secondly; I don't celebrate festivals. They lovingly tugged at my hands, pulling me along to join them in their traditional dance of Batkamma, ie. dancing around the tray of flowers singing songs and clapping hands the tribal style, shoulders rubbing each others to keep up with the beat.
I threw my bag and joined the small group, though I had never danced around thus. Long back, I remember, I used to look at them with curiosity, as the villagers carried trays on their heads and headed to the temples. Their gaudy saris hugely in contrast with the modern sober colors, always fascinated me. One cannot resist joining them as the song moved on to higher pitch, and their feet tapped to the rhythm of their claps.
Festivals always fascinated me. India is a den for it. Each festival has a reason behind it. A social gathering to unwind and take a break from the routine. That is what Batkamma dance did to me, the breaking of the routine of solo dancing to join a group dancing.
I joined the frenzy and we moved on to another house where more women joined in and the song and the dance continued. Many were surprised seeing me dance among them. They saw me coming out of my cocooned life, laughing and enjoying the company of women. They were more than happy to have me. Great happiness lies in small matters of life.
I had kept myself away from the society and the people, lost in my own world, a world built of imagination, principles and philosophy. But breaking from it once in a while gives one an opportunity to look outside and then once again within.
A few women were so excited by my presence, they wrung my hand instead of shaking it. I am glad I smiled and felt divinely happy.
Causes Sumathi Mohan Supports
Child education, eradication of child labour and child marriages, promotion of education in slum areas. free thinking. MV Foundation, Hyderabad. CRY.