The tiny habitation in the dense forest of Eturunagaram teems with devotees for Sammaka Sarakka jatara, beginning Wednesday

Medaram, the otherwise sleepy village in the dense forest of Eturunagaram is bustling with activities for the famous Sammakka Sarakka jatara, the most sought-after tribal fair in the region, is all set to begin on Wednesday.

The village, with barely a few hundred population, is already teeming with devotees who started thronging the venue ahead of the festival, giving an impression as if the tiny habitation and its surrounding areas are flooded by a ‘sea of humanity’.

The devotees, in serpentine queues, have started making a beeline for the main altar, where the tribal priests would install the Goddess Sammakka and Sarakka.

In the wake of this hustle-bustle, the mood has been set for the festival. The villages, already imbued with the festive fervour, have put up temporary sheds. Deserting their kitchens at house since a while, they are eating, drinking and dozing off in the open.

Civic amenities see a turn-around

Meanwhile, the civic amenities available at the village have seen a complete turn-around.

Brand new transformers are supplying uninterrupted power, water gushing out from hundreds of taps, a rarity in the area.

The APSRTC authorities have set up a bus bay in a bamboo field and yes, there is a helipad too!

The tribal festival is a treat to watch for its sheer size and spiritual belief. As plumes of red dust rise unhurriedly, women believed to be possessed by the Goddess are seen dancing in a trance. People have set up jungle camps everywhere and are enjoying the outing.

When devotees move towards the Jampanna Vagu, a small rivulet considered being holy, one is simply pushed ahead without any effort required. Such is the surge of the crowd.

The legend and belief

Every two years, tribal people of Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Odisha undertake the journey to Medaram what is nothing short of an odyssey as they travel in bullock carts for days together to reach the venue and pay obeisance to the legendary Koya tribal saints Sammakka, Sarakka, who became martyrs fighting the imperial armies of the Kakatiya monarch Pratapa Rudra II, some eight centuries ago.

The tribal people believe that the spirits of the legendary tribal warrior women would descend on Medaram during the jatara.

Of late, non-tribals are outnumbering the tribal pilgrims as they are treating it as an opportunity where one can eat, drink and make merry, chanting the adage ‘punyam, purushartham’ (deliverance and material comforts).