On 16 July 2014, the Telangana state government declared Bonalu and Bathukamma as state festivals, as they represent the unique culture of the region (Times of India 2014), and extended financial and logistical support to all such celebrations (New Indian Express 2014a). The government, led by the Telangana Rashtra Samithi party, appealed to all its citizens to celebrate the new state festivals. The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) was made responsible for providing resources for the festival celebrations (New Indian Express 2014b). The governments call was taken up fervently in the various neighbourhoods of the city. Bathukamma, in particular, emerged as a platform to articulate belonging in the new state of Telangana, wherein the local caste associations and resident welfare associations lobbied for organising the festivities, thereby making them the conduits for resources from the state and the political parties.
This democratisation of the Bathukamma festival had many subtle and significant effects on the everyday social relations in the urban localities, even beyond the project of state-making. In this paper, we track these transformations by focusing on local networks of actors who have been coordinating and organising the annual fesitivities since 2014. The paper draws from extensive fieldwork conducted in Hyderabad 2013 (Vidyapogu 2017, 2018) and 2014 (Jonnalagadda 2018, 2022) onwards. Based on observations collected over time, we show that caste-based identities have been specifically mobilised by communities in making claims over local resources and in lobbying for state resources and recognition.