Andhra Pradesh

Gangamma Jatara attracts heavy crowd on final day

Devotees carrying ‘Sapparalu’ to Thathayagunta temple in Tirupati on Tuesday.

Devotees carrying ‘Sapparalu’ to Thathayagunta temple in Tirupati on Tuesday. | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

The Thathayagunta temple in the heart of the city resembled a sea of humanity on Tuesday, the final day of the annual ‘Gangamma Jatara’, the folk festival of Tirupati.

The nine-day event witnessed arrival of lakhs of devotees from across Rayalaseema and the border districts of Tamil Nadu, in view of the ancient cultural connections enjoyed by the temple beyond geographical borders. The name ‘Tirupati Gangamma’ is so popular that, in fact, there are temples in the same name even in Tamil Nadu, where she is revered as the younger sister of Lord Venkateswara.

Men dress up as women

The last day is meant for men visiting the temple, dressed up as women, to offer prayers. The festival was actually introduced centuries back to praise the valorous act of Gangamma slaying a local chieftain, to punish him for his demonic character of outraging the modesty of women. Hence dressing up as a woman to pay obeisance to the goddess is considered an ‘ode’ to womanhood. The ‘Perantalu Vesham’ is donned traditionally by the ‘Kaikala’ clan. As times changed, the ritual turned into a fashion statement, with men draped in sari or other dress donning wigs, smearing lipstick and fancy goggles.

It is an ancient practice for the devout to carry pagoda-like structures called ‘Sapparalu’ while walking all the way to the temple.

The colourfully-decorated tower, made to stand on a long pole, is carried on the shoulder as a form of fulfilment of vow. The clay idol of Gangamma made in front of the temple will be smashed to pieces early on Wednesday morning.


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Printable version | Jun 18, 2022 3:33:50 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/gangamma-jatara-attracts-heavy-crowd-on-final-day/article65423513.ece