Bonalu is one of the most important festivals celebrated by the Telangana community across the globe, a tradition that started in the 18th century and celebrated till now.

Back in Telangana and across different countries of the world, this festival is celebrated with immense joy, hours of special puja and offerings.

"It was a good gathering and we men, women and children in traditional dresses performing puja with a floral presentation to goddess Mahakali at the event venue," Kalyan Rao Kasunganti, President of the Telangana Association of New Zealand told The Indian Weekender.

Members of Telangana Association New Zealand cherished the fact that their celebration of Bonalu puja was among the very first all around the world, purely because of the fact that the land of the Aotearoa is among the few countries to receive first sunlight of the day.

"We are proud to say that we are the first in the world to celebrate this festival as we are ahead in time geographically. There are massive celebrations planned back home in Telangana," Vijay Kosna, president of TRS NZ said.

The festival has an immense historical significance for the people of Telangana state as it has been celebrated continuously every year for over two centuries as an offering and gratitude towards goddess Mahakali.

The history of the festival goes back to the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad in South India in the 18th century. It is believed that a massive plague broke out in the twin cities in 1813 that killed thousands of people across the two places. A battalion of soldiers from Hyderabad was deployed at Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh just before this, and as they came to know of the disease, the soldiers prayed to goddess Mahakali to stop this disease, and in return, they would install a temple of Mahakali in the region.

It is believed that soon after that, the disease stopped and the military battalion came back to the city to fulfil their promise and installed the idol of the goddess followed by Bonalu to her.

The tradition has since been observed every year for the last two hundred years by the Telanganites in India and wherever they settled overseas.

The celebrations in Mt Eden War memorial started at 1:30 p.m. with Puja and offering fruits and flowers to the deity and ended at 6 p.m. with an early dinner for the members of the community.