Lonely Planet Writer

In photos: Hyderabad celebrates the Mother Goddess at the end of Bonalu festival

This year’s 11-day Bonalu festival drew to a colourful close on Sunday, 31 July with the city of Hyderabad celebrating with a final procession.

Indian artists perform during the Bonalu festival at the Sri Akkanna Madanna Mahankali Temple in Hyderabad.
Indian artists perform during the Bonalu festival at the Sri Akkanna Madanna Mahankali Temple in Hyderabad. Image by NOAH SEELAM/AFP/Getty Images

The festival celebrates the Goddess Mahakali who Hindus believe saved Hyderabad and Secunderabad from a plague that broke out in the 19th century. Worshippers celebrate the Mother Goddess in all her regional forms during the festival. 

Indian artist Korakula Munesh dresses as the Hindu goddess Maha Kali before performing in a final procession during the Bonalu festival.
Indian artist Korakula Munesh dresses as the Hindu goddess Maha Kali before performing in a final procession during the Bonalu festival. Image by NOAH SEELAM/AFP/Getty Images

Women make up a large part of the festival-goers and they often celebrate by dressing in traditional saris and dancing with a pot balancing on their head. They often prepare a meal to make an offering to the goddess.

As well as Hyderabad, the festival is celebrated in Secunderabad and other parts of Telangana. The cities celebrate with a carnival-like atmosphere with large numbers of people flocking to the towns to celebrate at their temples.

Devotees Kannaih Goud (L) and Madan Singh Yadav dress as Potharaju, brother of the Hindu goddess Maha Kali, before performing in a final procession.
Devotees Kannaih Goud (L) and Madan Singh Yadav dress as Potharaju, brother of the Hindu goddess Maha Kali, before performing in a final procession. Image by NOAH SEELAM/AFP/Getty Images