Hyderabad: Towns and villages in the State came alive as the three-day celebrations kicked off with ‘Bhogi Mantalu” burning of old and unwanted items like old clothes, mats and broom sticks in the belief that new things will usher into their lives. Men, women and children went around the bonfires. The fire provided relief to the participants from the chilly weather. Many sang and danced around the fire.
A festive atmosphere prevailed in residential colonies in Hyderabad and on the outskirts besides Vijayawada, Guntur, Visakhapatnam and other towns and villages. The day began with womenfolk cleaning their houses and decorating the entrances with intricate ‘Rangoli’ designs. They also set cow-dung balls called ‘Gobbemma’ and placed a fresh harvest of rice, turmeric and sugarcane. The houses were decorated with marigold flowers and mango leaves.
‘Haridasulu’ and ‘Basvannas’, the uniquely attired alms seekers with ornately decorated ox, made rounds of the villages. Youths took to kite-flying across the two States. After offering prayers in temples, the families prepared various dishes, especially Pongal — made of rice and daal. Decoration of bulls, cock-fights, bull fight and other rural sports mark the festival.
Several lakh people employed in Hyderabad headed to their homes in various districts in both the States. The Telangana State government waived off toll tax on highways to prevent traffic jams at toll plazas and to enable people to reach their destinations on time. The Andhra Pradesh government also waived off the toll on commuters heading to their native places for the festival. Many Telugu people working abroad were also visiting their families.
The Railways operated extra trains and bus corporations in both the States operated additional bus services to clear the holiday rush.