The Telugu lunar month of Karthika Masam is considered very auspicious; it starts a day after the major festival of Deepavali. A popular ritual practiced in this month is ‘Vanabhojanalu’ literally meaning having food in gardens. Most families in Telugu speaking States of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh; as a group of relatives or as members of a large association go on picnics in this month and spend the whole day in a garden or in the wilderness, under trees. They have a good time chitchatting, playing games, loitering around and enjoying foods most liked by them.
While my father was working in Singareni Collieries at Kothagudem, persons of our community used to organize ‘Karthika Vana Samaradhana’ on a large scale in our 5-acre mango garden. There used to be a puja to the Amla tree, lots of entertainment and rich foods for close to 150 people. This tradition continued for over 15 years until my father retired from service and sold the garden before shifting back to Secunderabad. This experience and the pleasure we derived from such daylong picnics has kept the tradition of Vanabhojanalu going on in our family. Mango gardens and farmhouses owned by friends or resorts around the city of Hyderabad help us in this celebration.
This year’s Karthika Masam commenced on 20th October 2017and will be ending day after tomorrow on 18th November. So on a recent Sunday we went out for Vanabhojanalu with the families of my siblings and my wife’s siblings, as usual. The venue was a huge Mango Garden owned by my friend and located 60 km away from our house in a very serene and lovely place. Of course there were other trees like Amla and huge Tamarind and Neem trees. It was a potluck party with all families participating in it and with additional contribution from my friend, the owner of the Mango garden. Everyone enjoyed the picnic in that calm and lovely environment with lots of games in the open and under the trees, with good food and a group-birthdays celebration.
When Karthika Masam coincides with major part of November month; we also celebrate birthdays of nine family members (including mine) born in November, during this daylong Vanabhojanala function.
The attached pictures are of this year’s Vanabhojanam and Birthday celebrations.