Hyderabad: As the Bonalu festivals start, the main attraction will be the tradition of the Rangam, who, people believe, sees the future and can answer their queries.
Among the well-known Rangams is 60-year-old Susheelaamma, a Lal Darwaza local in the Old City. This year marks the 34th year since Susheelamma became a Bonalu Rangam.
“In 1988, I was selected as Rangam by my father-in-law Srihari. His father had served as the oracle before him, and my father-in-law continued to do so until the age of 90. I had to assume the responsibility when his age did not permit him to carry on with the tradition,” she said.
Susheelamma said she would be the Rangam for most of the Old City temples such as those in Begum Bazaar and Chandrayangutta. Susheelaamma has four daughters and one son.
Her daughter Anuradha became the Rangam when she was 30, six years ago, following in the footsteps of her mother Susheelamma. Anuradha, a housewife, is the Rangam at the temples of Lal Darwaza, Karwan, Gowlipura, Akkana Madanna temple, and a few other places in the Old City.
“Politicians will swarm the temples for Bonalu this year. Because of the talk of early elections, the focus will mostly be on political concerns. We expect politicians to post their queries on politics and the elections,” said K. Venkatesh, former chairman of the Simhavahin Sri Mahankali Devalayam, Lal Darwaza.
Thousands of people attend Bonalu’s main events, including ‘Rangam’, where the maatangi (oracle) prophecies the future. The devotees resolve their doubts by asking the Maatangi who is possessed by the Goddess. She prophesies while standing atop a moist clay pot.
“Lakhs of people witness the event,” Venkatesh said. She gives Her message to the devotees on the affair of the world around them, and cautions them regarding calamities and mishaps that are in store. “She also gives solutions to the devotees on how to dodge misfortune,” he said.
This celebration is held on the Monday following the main Bonalu festival in all temples. After the Rangam, “Baligampa,” a procession in which food gifts to the deity are showered on homes, is held.