Andhra Pradesh

Jatara, a unique blend of altruism and celebration

Devotees arriving at the Thathayagunta Gangamma temple in Tirupati on Tuesday.

Devotees arriving at the Thathayagunta Gangamma temple in Tirupati on Tuesday.  

The Tirupati Ganga Jatara, held during the peak of the summer, features all the elements that help devotees beat the heat. The colourful festival is a rich blend of altruism and cacophony of curses.

On the first three days, devotees smear ‘bairagi vesham’ (white clay), ‘banda vesham’ (vermilion) and ‘thoti vesham’ (charcoal) over their bodies and visit temples. These elements are believed to protect the skin from heat.

Hurling expletives

The festival is marked by charity. Almost every household in a temple’s vicinity distributes buttermilk or juice to arriving devotees. ‘Ambali’, a drink made of ragi, is also distributed to devotees. “Each Tirupati resident must quench the thirst of visitors during the festival,” says N. Chakrapani, founder of the Sri Venkata Padmavathi Charitable Trust, which has installed a ‘chalivendram’ (water kiosk) near the Karumariamma temple. “We have relished ambali during our visit to Tirupati every year,” says Sagi Veeraiah, from Tiruvalangadu village in Tiruvallur district in Tamil Nadu.

Similarly, pongal, made of rice and green gram, is distributed to devotees. While rice, rich in carbohydrate, gives one the energy to withstand heat, green gram, a low-fat high-fibre source of protein, keeps one cool.

A unique tradition in the festival is to shout expletives to invoke the goddess. It is believed that Gangamma went around shouting expletives to enrage and bring ‘palegadu’ out of his hiding.

“Venting pent-up emotions by the means of shouting expletives is relieving for many,” says N.B. Sudhakar Reddy, general secretary, the Andhra Pradesh Counselling Psychologists’ Association (APCPA).

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2020 6:34:24 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/jatara-a-unique-blend-of-altruism-and-celebration/article27130987.ece

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