stanley theodore
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Hyderabad, 26 September
 A centuries’ old tradition by villagers to honour the origin of their habitation is gaining resurgence in Telangana with the interesting feature being the separate statehood sentiment is not responsible for it.
 Generations ago, people installed a shaft of stone around which the village would come up. The people named it ‘Bodrai’. ‘Boddu’ means navel and ‘raayi’ means stone. This is meant to signify the birth of their village. Bodrai means so much, that when the village welcomes a new bride or a groom, one is to pay one&’s respects to the Bodrai and only then visit the temple.
 The honouring of this umbilical relationship is called ‘Panduga’, meaning festival. And this is the only festival, across the several in the region, where the village comes together as one.
 “This festival basically serves to cement a sense of unity, apart from instilling a sense of security among the villagers,” IT minister Mr P Lakshmaiah told The Statesman. He was at the forefront in organising one such event recently in his home constituency, Jangaon.
Talk of a village organising the festival spreads to the neighbouring areas. Soon the adjacent village begins the search for their ‘Bodrai’. The chances of it getting buried with time are great. For instance road-laying can cover the stone for good. In which event the villagers get another stone.
 To install a new one takes three days. During this period the villagers abstain from alcohol and meat. Belief has it that when it&’s installed the village should be cut off. For this they even enlist the police&’s support. They block the entry and exit roads to the village the night following the installation. To ensure children&’s participation, the village cuts its TV cables off.
 A priest in Warangal, Mr P Rajeshwara Chari, who presided over 50 installations in five years, explained, “This is tradition was prevalent all over the country. Earlier it was a natural stone. Here villagers wanted it to look like a Shivling. Thereafter they had it carved in different shapes”.
 Villagers hold the Bodrai in very high esteem. For instance if there is a dispute between two villagers, the elders suggest that they end their row.