The bonhime continues till late in the evening. Soon thereafter, each of the women brings out the delicacies she has brought for the occasion. Although, it is the sattupindi that is brought in majority there is no bar on bringing any other food or sweet dish. After sharing with each other, they partake the dishes.
Like Goddess Kali idol is immersed in water on the concluding day of the Navaratri celebrations, similarly Bathukamma is at times immersed in a stream or well that serves the purposes of drinking water. The overwhelming belief is that once flowers from the Pedda Bathukamma are placed inside the waters, the water would be purified and remains so for all time to come.
However, the pasupu mudda (depicting Gowramma) is not thrown inside the water. Rather every married woman applies a paste of this, after dipping it in the by now holy water, on her mangalsutra (the sacred thread/nuptial knot that marks the solemnization of her marriage) so that her husband is protected from all evils and ill fate. They also smear their cheeks and neck with the paste.
In essence, praying for the long and healthy life of the husband is what the entire festival is all about.
Once the immersion starts the pond/stream/well are deluged with Bathukamma, some of them glittering with the lit wicks. In the night they glow and emit a brilliant radiance that is a sight to behold.
Bathukamma has a social relevance in that men and women from their respective villages or towns get a chance to interact with each other as they assemble in specific spots.
For women, this is a rare opportunity. During these nine days, they forget the ordeals, agonies and pain or whatever as they get a feel of the outside world. This is because they mingle with unknown people and become oblivious of their travails and tribulations, the day-to-day chores. In short, it is bliss time.
But then these are images from a seemingly distant past. The world was to change, alter these equations, once I stood on my legs and started eking out a livelihood.
After I took to the camera and became a full-fledged photographer, I had the opportunity to shoot the entire Bathukamma festivities at Bhadrakali, my chosen spot, on two occasions. However, in my initial years as a lensman, black and white was in the forefront and color photography was still in its formative stages, at least in India.