Preparations for the famous Nagoba Jatara, the pilgrimage-cum-fair, of the Gond tribes of Mesram clan commenced when a group led by five priests or ‘Kathodas’ took the holy dip in Godavari river on Thursday.
The 72 member strong group will carry water from the river in the holy ‘Jhari’, a small long-necked spherical brass vessel, to perform the abhishekam of the Serpent god at the Nagoba temple in Keslapur village of Indervelli mandal before the Jatara begins on February 9.
The Jhari, embossed with tribal motifs, is as old as the temple itself and is considered to be very sacred. It remains under custody of the priests of the temple until required for fetching water from Godavari the following year. The group comprising of Gonds from different villages in the agency area here, started on their journey on foot from Keslapur to Godavari on January 27. After walking for about 200 km and visiting the villages of Vadgam and Dodanda (Indervelli mandal), Yempally and Kothapalli-B (Narnoor), Lendijala and Gowri (Jainoor, Ghumnoor (Sirpur-U) and Narsimhapur (Jannaram), the Gonds reached Athamadugu near Kalamadugu village in Jannaram mandal early on Thursday.
“Fetching water from Godavari is a sacred task. We wear only white clothes and walk barefoot during the entire journey,” says Mesram Dade Rao, the senior among the Kathodas in the group.
After walking all through the intervening night of Thursday-Friday, the tribal people will reach Birsaipet at 11 a.m. and proceed towards Punaguda in Utnoor mandal to spend the night there.
This will be followed with another night halt at Narsapur in the same mandal and Dodanda in Indervelli mandal. “At Indervelli, we will be joined by others from our clan. The holy Jhari will be taken to Keslapur amid observance of rituals to the accompaniment of music,” Dade Rao says of the tradition. The group will camp at the huge old banyan tree located just a stone’s throw away from the temple for four days. “This camping period is to give time for Mesram families from distant places to join others,” the Kathoda reveals of an important custom.
The pilgrimage-cum-fair of the Gond tribes from Mesram clan began when a group led by five priests or ‘Kathodas’ took the holy dip in Godavari