Nestled in the scenic surroundings of Tadvai forest range of the Eturunagaram wildlife sanctuary, Medaram, the tiny village of the tribal majority Mulugu district in Telangana, turned into a sea of humanity as the historic four-day Sammakka Saralamma jatara, took off to a traditional start as per the centuries-old Adivasi tribal traditions on Wednesday.
A spirit of reverence gripped this small tribal village as tens of thousands of devotees mostly comprising Adivasis from the tribal areas of the State as well as from Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and other States, thronged Medaram in hordes from the early hours of Wednesday.
The biennial tribal fair, considered as the largest tribal congregation in the country, is devoted to commemorate and revere the brave tribal women Sammakka and Saralamma, the mother-daughter duo who waged a valiant fight against the reigning rulers for levying taxes on tribals during the 12th century, according to legends.
A group of tribal priests brought Saralamma from the nearby Kannepally village in a customary procession in adherence to the age-old tribal traditions to Medaram where they installed the tribal deity on the Gaddelu (altar) on Wednesday evening, marking the formal start of the festival.
Collector S. Krishna Aditya, Assistant Superintendent of Police Sudhir R. Kekan and others were present.
Scores of tribals followed the procession in reverence, some in trance and others dancing to the traditional drum beats extolling the tribal deities.
In adherence to the centuries-old ritual, devotees including tribals and non-tribals took bath in Jampannavagu, a tributary of Godavari River, before worshipping the tribal goddess Saralamma.
On the second day, Sammakka will be brought to the altar from the nearby Chilakalagutta forest abode to enable devotees to worship both the tribal goddesses.
The influx of devotees swelled on Wednesday evening as pilgrims, several of them carrying goats and hens, reached Medaram quite a few of them in bullock carts and mostly in private vehicles and TSRTC buses.
Meanwhile, the district administration declared a local holiday for two days on February 16 and 17 in the Agency areas of Mulugu district on account of the Sammakka Saralamma jatara, declared a State festival.
A one-day local holiday has been declared for the entire district on February 18.