HYDERABAD: India is a country that boasts of great history and is the mother of traditions, beliefs and values. Again, each state in India has its own culture and tradition. Telangana, the youngest state in India is a cradle of unique traditions and rituals. The state has a distinctive historical legacy and one can witness a wide range of festivals, celebrated with much joy and pride.
The Sammakka Saralamma Jatara which is popularly known as the ‘Medaram Jatara’ is one of the ancient festivals of the state. This tribal fest is the state festival of Telangana and is celebrated with much fervour in few parts of the state. It will be conducted once every two years and this biennial tribal fest is one of Asia's biggest tribal carnivals. This year, Sammakka- Saralamma Jatara will be held between February 5 and 8, 2020.
Biggest fest after Kumbh Mela:
After Kumbh Mela, the Sammakka-Saralamma Jatara attracts millions of pilgrims and tourists from not only the two Telugu states but also from the other states like Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Orissa, Jharkand, etc. Earlier, people used to reach Medaram by a bullock cart but with time the facilities have been developed; as a result, the footfall reached tremendously.
Where does the fest take place?
Medaram Jatara starts at Medaram village in Tadvai Mandal of Jayashankar Bhupalpally district of Telangana. On the first day, the goddess Saralamma will arrive to the platform (Medaram Gaddhe) and on the second day, Sammakka will be brought to the platform amidst beating drums. On the third day, the two goddesses will be on the altar and again on the fourth day, they will be taken back to the village (Vanapravesham). The tribal priests perform puja to the deities and bring them to the altars from Kannepally (Saralamma) and Chilukalagutta (Samakka) and later perform Vanapravesham which means back to the forest.
People will be completely immersed in a religious mood and they offer prayers to the Goddesses with much devotion. Jaggery will be offered to the god and most of the devotees offer their own weight in Jaggery to the Goddesses. Holy bath in Jampanna Vagu. There are many legends about Sammakka and Saralamma.
What does the folklore say?
According to folklore, in the 13th century, a Koya (tribes) territory which was a part of the Kakatiya kingdom was ruled by the Koyas itself. Though it was a dense forest there used to be severe famines. So, Koyas used to give prominence for hunting rather than for Podu cultivation. A few tribals who went for hunting found a newborn girl amidst wild animals. They have taken the little one to their habitation and she was adopted by the head of the community. It is learned that the touch of Sammakka would treat the problems of the people and she was treated like the Goddess.
Later, she was married to Pagidigidda Raju, a tribal chief. Sammakka was blessed with two daughters Saralamma, Nagulamma and one son Jampanna. Saralamma got married to Govinda Raju. All the people of the territory were self-sufficient and were leading their lives happily. Suddenly, mother nature didn't go in favor of the tribal people and a severe famine struck the Koya territory. Pratapa Rudra I who was ruling the Kakatiya kingdom has sent a message to Pagidigidda Raju to pay the tax. Pagidigidda Raju told that it is very difficult to pay the tax and the messenger passed the same message to the king.
With this, the king got furious and announced a war on the Koyas. The Kakatiyas who have huge armed forces when compared to the tribals reached the Sampangi Vagu. Pagidigidda Raju fought against the Kakatiyas and later they backstabbed Pagidigidda Raju and killed him. Sammakka came into the picture and killed the soldiers of Kakatiyas and it stunned everyone.
Finally, Sammakka and Saralamma were attacked with the arrows and the two grand ladies moved towards the Chilakalagutta. After some time they have had vanished and a heap of vermillion appeared in a place. The tribals believed that Sammakka and Saralamma were the avatars of God. Jampanna sacrificed his life for the well being of Tribals in Sarangi Vagu and later it was called as Jampanna Vagu. Many tribal revolts took place in the country but this revolt by two tribal women gained much prominence. It is learned that the curse of Sammakka and Saralamma has ruined Kakatiyas.
Measures taken by Telangana:
The government of Telangana is taking all the measures for the Medaram jatara. Sources say that around 12,000 police personnel have been deployed. The government has taken maximum measures to prevent infectious diseases; the public health care institutions in and around Mulugu, Kamalapura and Bhupalpally will work round the clock.
How to reach?
Medaram is located 266.3 km from the city of Hyderabad and it is located at a distance of 14 km northwest to the Tadvai village. One can easily reach the place by bus or one can hire a private vehicle to reach the Medaram. The TSRTC is taking all the measures to operate a good number of buses from various depots.