Medaram Jatara starts as Saralamma reaches Gadde around 9.30 pm

Said to be one of Asia’s largest tribal congregations, the festival pays tribute to the mother-daughter duo’s valiant fight against the mighty Kakatiya rulers

Updated - March 04, 2024 04:45 pm IST

Published - February 22, 2024 05:55 am IST - MULUGU

A bird’s eye view of the congregation at Samakka-Saralamma Jatara, at Medaram village in Mulugu district on Wednesday.

A bird’s eye view of the congregation at Samakka-Saralamma Jatara, at Medaram village in Mulugu district on Wednesday. | Photo Credit: NAGARA GOPAL

With a significant surge of pilgrims, an atmosphere of heightened spiritual fervour and devotion pervaded the forest areas of Medaram tribal shrine and its surrounding villages in Mulugu on Wednesday, as one of the two main tribal deities — Saralamma (also known as Sarakka) — was installed atop the ‘Gadde’ (a sacred platform) at around 9.30 p.m. on Wednesday in adherence to centuries-old Koya tribal tradition.

The event marks the commencement of the biennial Sammakka-Saralamma Jatara, which is said to be Asia’s biggest tribal congregation. Saralamma was brought to the Gadde in a procession amidst tight police security from Kannepally village, three km away from Medaram, by Koya priests wearing red headgear after performing prayers at the temple. The procession was led by a priest carrying a flag bearing the image of Lord Hanuman.

Simultaneously, Pagididda Raju, the consort of Sammakka, from Punugondla village of Mahabubabad district, located about 80 km away, and Govinda Raju, the consort of Sarakka, from Kondai village of Eturnagaram, have been brought to their Gadde. Prior to their arrival at the shrine, the family members of four clans (Gotram) of Koya tribes performed special prayers to these deities at Jampannavagu rivulet, a tributary of the Godavari.

Womenfolk of these families exchanged vermilion and turmeric in adherence with customs. A three-layered security arrangement by the police was in place to ensure smooth movement of the procession. Scores of tribals followed the procession in reverence, some in trance and others dancing to the traditional drumbeats extolling the tribal deities.

Meanwhile, Jampanna, the son of Sammakka and a revered figure, adorned his designated Gadde on Tuesday night. Subsequently, devotees began streaming towards the platforms from the early hours of Wednesday. In preparation for the arrival of the forest deities, the shrine premises were adorned with intricate decorations on Tuesday itself. Sanitation crews aided by Koya youth volunteers are on the job of clearing offerings, such as jaggery and coconuts, to prevent the accumulation of waste.

Meanwhile, police personnel are closely monitoring the huge rush of pilgrims and managing vehicular traffic to avoid untoward incidents due to the lakhs of devotees at Medaram. Nearly 16,000 staff from various government departments were actively involved in the festival arrangements. This tribal fair is devoted to commemorate and revere the brave tribal women Sammakka and Saralamma, the mother-daughter duo who waged a valiant fight against the mighty Kakatiya rulers for levying taxes on tribals during the 12th century, according to local legend. On Thursday, Sammakka, the main deity, will be brought to the Gadde from the nearby Chilakalagutta hillock to enable devotees to worship the goddesses. The police are also making all arrangements to ensure smooth arrival of Sammakka.

Meanwhile, the district administration declared a local holiday for four days from February 21 to 24 in Mulugu district on account of the Sammakka-Saralamma Jatara, a State festival, while one-day holiday was declared on Friday in the other parts of erstwhile Warangal district. Minister and local MLA Danasari Anasuya aka Seethakka, who belongs to the Koya tribe, District Collector Ila Tripathi and SP P. Shabarish are leading the staff.

Centre releases ₹3.14 crore for Medaram Festival

Union Minister for Tourism, Culture and Development of Northeast Region, G. Kishan Reddy, has announced that the Centre has released ₹3.14 crore for the ongoing Medaram Tribal Festival including ₹3.14 crore from the Tribal Welfare Ministry and another ₹84 lakh from the Tourism Ministry on Wednesday.

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