Explained: The significance of Telangana’s tribal fair Sammakka-Sarakka jatara
Hyderabad, Feb 16: The historic 'Sammakka Saralamma Jatara', a four-day mega tribal festival, began at Medaram village in Mulugu district of Telangana on Wednesday with participation of thousands of devotees.
During the biennial 'Medaram Jatara', declared a state festival by the Telangana government, tribal devotees offer obeisance to Goddesses Sammakka and her daughter Saralamma at Medaram which is located in a forest area.
As per folklore, the festival commemorates the fight of Sammakka and Saralamma against the oppression of Kakatiya rulers.
It commemorates the fight of a mother and daughter," Sammakka and Saralamma" (also known as Sarakka), with the reigning rulers against an unjust law.
There are many legends about the miraculous powers of Sammakka.
According to a tribal story, about 6-7 centuries ago, that is in the 13th century, some tribal leaders who went for a hunting found a new born girl (Sammakka) emitting enormous light playing amidst tigers. She was taken to their habitation, and the head of the tribe adopted her and brought up as a chief. She later became the saviour of the tribals of the region. She was married to Pagididda Raju, the tribal chief of the Koyas.
The Kakatiyas (who ruled the region with its headquarters in Warangal City between 1000 AD and 1380 AD). She was blessed with 2 daughters and one son namely Sarakka, Nagulamma and Jampanna respectively.
When King Prataprudra of the Kakatiyas imposed taxes on the Koya Tribe, the chief of the tribe was unable to pay them. As a result, Prataprudra declared war on the Koya Tribe. All the tribal people had turned into warriors. Pagididda Raju was killed in the battle.
Angered with grief, Sammakka entered the battlefield along with her daughter, Saralamma, her son, Jampanna and also her son-in-law Govinda Raju. Sammakka had almost won when Saralamma died in the battle and Jampanna died in this attack and fell bleeding into a vaagu (stream) and later the whole "Sampangi Vaagu", that is the name of the stream has turned red from the blood due to which it was later on called "Jampanna Vaagu" near the place where the present festival is taking place.
Sammakka had gone to a hill named Chilakala Gutta and all alone, she manifested into a vermilion casket. (Kumkum Bharani). After that the tribe and devotees have been believing that Sammakka and Saralamma were manifestations of Adi Parashakti and they have been protecting them.
The main objective of the jatara is to bring the vermilion casket to Medaram, take a bath in Jampanna Vagu and offer jaggery to Sammakka and Saralamma. The jatara was only done in the throne of Sammakka and later a separate throne was built for Saralamma.
The Adivasis living in forest fringe habitations in several states along the river Godavari congregate once in two years to celebrate the valour of their kin Sammakka and Saralamma. They treat them as Goddesses and hail their bravery in trying to protect them.
On the first day, the traditional arrival of Saralamma on the 'Medaram Gaddhe' (platform) is celebrated, while the second day (Thursday) marks the arrival of Sammakka.
The jatara will culminate with 'Vana Pravesham' ritual on Saturday. Jaggery is the traditional offering made to the deities. The tribals offer jaggery of their weight considering it to be gold.
They also offer red blouse pieces, vermilion, and turmeric to the deities in large quantities. They take a little part of the same as prasadam from the altar back to their homes, officials said. They also take a holy dip in Jampanna Vagu (stream).
Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao will attend and offer prayers at 'Medaram Jatara' on Feburary 18, an official release said.
Large number of devotees from Telangana and other states, including Chattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, are thronging the remote hamlet bursting at seams once in two years during the jatara. The police expect about 1.25 crore people and the arrival of 3.5 lakh private vehicles and 4,000 RTC buses.
As the crowds began swelling, the state government pitched in making arrangements for the devotees.
Over 9,000 police personnel drawn from various districts are deployed as part of jatara duties, officials said adding a total of 382 CCTVs, two drone cameras, 20 display boards and huge command control centre to monitor the jatara round-the-clock were put in place.
The Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) expects to transport nearly 30 lakh people operating 4,000 buses while the rest are expected to arrive by 3.5 lakh private vehicles.