Telangana’s prestigious ‘Sammakka Saralamma Jatara’ or ‘Medaram Jatara’ is a festival of honouring the Hindu goddesses, celebrated in united Warangal district. This Jatara is known for witnessing one of the largest people gatherings in the world. The Jatara begins at Medaram in Tadvai mandal in Mulugu district.
This tribal Jatara(mela) is celebrated once in two years in the month of Magha Masam (January/February) for a period of 4 days when devotees gather in memory of Sammakka and Saarakka. People from Telangana, Andhra, Maharastra, Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh come to take part in this Jathara. Touted to be one of the largest gathering across the country, is the Kumbh mela of tribals. This is a festival with no Vedic or Brahmanic influence celebrated with all the pomp and grandeur with tribal rituals only. After Kumbh Mela Medaram Jatara is the only largest religious gathering with more than 10 million people joining the Jatara.
Situated in the Eturunagaram Wildlife santuary, Medaram is a remote village where this festival has been taking place for over 1000 years now. While bangaram (Jaggery) equal to their weight is offered, this place is flooded with devotees during these four days of celebration. The gathering is so huge that the traffic on the Warangal highway extends upto 60 kms sometimes.
History of Sammakka and Sarakka
It was about 6-7 centuries ago when a group of tribals who went hunting into the forest found a baby girl lying amidst emitting light. The head of the tribe adopted her raised her. He got her married to feudatory tribal chief of Kakatiyas. They had three children, Saarakka, Nagulamma and Jampanna.
Their region faced a severe drought which dried up their lakes resulting in their head Pagididda Raju (husband of Sammakka) failing to pay their share of tribute to the Kakatiya King Pratapa Rudra. In turn the King Pratapa Rudra sent his army to collect the tribute from tribals. This resulted in a war between the Kakatiyas and tribals. Everyone from Saarakka to Jampanna lost their lives in the battle trying to protect their section.
Upon hearing this, Sammakka too joined the forces and fought valiantly and ransacked the Kakatiya army. Shocked by her bravery, the Kakatiya king visited the tribe for peace talks. Being furious about the loss of her tribe, family and people, Sammakka refused to come to terms and continued to fight. She pledged to her people that as long as she is alive she would protect them. She in turn cursed that the Kakaitya kingdom would perish soon. After being seriously injured in the battle and sending away the Kakatiya army, she walked into the forest towards Chilakala Gutta.
When the tribals went in search for her, they only found a box containing vermillion (Kumkum), few bangles and a pug mark of a tigress. To their surprise this was the exact place where they found as a baby girl in the forest. Since then the tribes have been hosting a festival in her remembrance for her bravery in protecting their tribe.
Important days in Sammakka Sarakka Medaram Jatara:
The First Day of Medaram Jatara is celebrated as the arrival of Goddess Sarakka. Sarakka will be brought from Kanneboyina Palli( a neighbouring village in the forest) in the evening and placed on Gadde, the Sanctum Sanctorum of this Jatara.
Thhe second day of Samakka Saralamma Jatara is celebrated as the arrival of Goddess Samakka the presiding deity of Medaram Jathara. The Goddess will be brought from Chilukala Gutta in the evening and will be placed on Holy Gadde. Normally, the Goddess is in the form of Vermilion
There are two Gadde’s (an earthen platform raised under the tree) separately one for Goddess Samakka and other for Goddess Sarakka. The Tribal priest brings Bamboo Sticks and placed on Gadde. The Goddess are represented by Bamboo Sticks smeared with Turmeric (Goddess Sarakka) and Vermilion (Goddess Samakka).
The most important day of the Jatara. On this holy day, Magha Suddha Pournima, the Goddess Samakka – Saralamm Darshan is available to Devotees. Devotees perform holy bath in “Jampanna Vaggu”( It is a tributary to river Godavari) and visit the Goddess to seek blessings of Goddess Sammakka and Saralamma.
The final day of the Jatara – On this last day, the deities are taken back into the forest to the Goddess original places. This ceremony is called as “Vanapravesham”.
Meanwhile, facilities for devotees bolstered; several measures in place to make the biennial tribal fair plastic-free
The district administration has made elaborate arrangements for the lakhs of devotees expected at the biennial Sammakka-Sarakka Jatara at Medaram this year, said V. Chakradhara Rao, project officer, Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA), Eturunagaram.
To make it a plastic-free affair, 10 check posts have been set up to seize plastic carry bags from devotees. Bus drivers and conductors have also been instructed to discourage passengers from carrying plastic bags. “We have arranged for free distribution of 35,000 cloth bags sponsored by Vijaya Dairy and 10,000 cloth bags by Nandyala Pipes and several other NGOs,” Rao said.
Fifty women volunteers from Jeevanadhi NGO would be on duty at Jampanna vagu and other places to pick up plastic waste and dump them in dustbins. The ITDA has let out free spaces to shops selling jute bags all over Medaram village as part of its plastic-free drive.
“This time, we are also adding more facilities. We are setting up five huge sheds, each of which can accommodate 1,000 devotees to rest briefly before and after darshan. Earlier, they were left to fend for themselves by braving the chill or raising temporary tents of plastic sheets,” he explained.
The district administration has provided 342 pipelines, each containing 20 taps for bathing at Jampanna vagu and 538 pipelines, also attached with 20 taps each for drinking water purposes, all over Medaram village. A total of 8,400 toilets have been constructed in the 2-km radius of the altar.
The ITDA project officer added that 129 four-arm solar lights and 100 single-arm solar lights have been installed to cover 25 km around the village on permanent basis with an estimated cost of ₹2 crore.
Besides, the tribal museum at Medaram has also been renovated and it would be thrown open to the public to view tribal dances and other performances daily for entertainment as well as education purposes. #KhabarLive