Warangal (Tel): Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao today offered prayers to deities Samakka and Saralamma at an ongoing tribal festival.The four-day mega tribal festival, `Sammakka Saralamma Maha Jathara' or `Medaram Jathara', started on January 31 at Medaram in Jayashankar Bhupalpally district."In a way, this can be termed as adivasi 'girijana' (tribal) 'Kumbh Mela'. People from 10 states in the country come here in their traditional attire.

They offer respects to their ancestors and the 'Van Devtas' (forest gods)," Naidu said on the occasion.Naidu, who offered silk 'vastram' (cloth) and 'bangaram' (jaggery equal to his weight as per tradition) to the two deities, said such festivals promote a spirit of togetherness and encourage people to walk on the righteous path.Rao, who offered prayers along with his family members, ministers and officials, announced several measures for the development of the festival site.

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The CM said he would visit the area again soon to take stock of the permanent arrangements to be made at the place.About 200-300 acres at the place would be taken for the purpose of development, the Chief Minister said.As part of permanent arrangements, Rao announced Rs 200 crore to raise constructions and other facilities. Massive arrangements would be made for the 'jatara' next year, he said.

Noting that the festival should be recognised on par with the famous 'Kumbh Mela', he said the state government has already taken up the matter with the Centre and added he would raise the issue with Prime Minister also.The state government's website describes the festival, held every two years at Medaram village in Tadvai mandal, deep inside forests, as the largest tribal religious gathering in the world.Over one crore devotees are expected to visit the festival this year, an official said.

During the Jathara, declared a state festival by the Telangana government, tribal devotees offer obeisance to deities Sammakka and her daughter Saralamma.As per the folklore, the festival commemorates the fight of Sammakka and Saralamma against the oppression of Kakatiya rulers.White jaggery is the traditional offering made to the two deities. Devotees often offer their own weight in jaggery to Sammakka and Saralamma. They also take a holy bath in nearby Jampanna Vagu (stream). (PTI)

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