Largest tribal religious fest begins in Warangal

Last Updated 17 February 2016, 19:07 IST

The biannual Sammakka Sarakka Jatara, considered the world’s largest tribal religious congregation attracting several millions, began on Wednesday at Medaram in Warangal district.

A staggering 1.1 crore people are expected to visit the event, also called Medaram Jatara, to commemorate the crusade of the mother-daughter duo Sammakka and Saralamma against an unjust law imposed by the rulers. 

Devotees to the Jatara pray at the makeshift open air shrines where idols of two goddesses are installed for three days and are then shifted to another for two more years. Last year, an estimated 1 crore pilgrims visited Medaram in Tadwai mandal, 90 kilometres from Warangal city in Telangana. 

Devotees also offer bangaram (jaggery) to the goddesses, the quantity of which is equivalent to their body weight. 

A festival without vedic or Brahmanical influence, goats and chicken are sacrificed to the goddesses and liquor is consumed in large quantity in Medaram village. 

Until 1998, devotees could reach the village only on a bullock cart, post which the government declared the 1000-year-old festival official and laid a pucca road to the venue. 

After the formation of Telangana, the festival has gained additional importance with the state government sanctioning Rs 200 crore for the development of the village. 

While TSRTC would run 400 special busses to Medaram from across the state, more than a lakh private vehicles are also expected at the village. Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao would offer prayers at Medaram on Friday. 

Telangana endowment minister Indrakaran Reddy said 125 varieties of flowers will be brought from Bengaluru to decorate the open space, where the statues of Sammakka, Sarakka, Padigiddaraju, and Govindaraju are installed on a pedestal called Gadde. In all, 12 tonnes of flowers will be used for decoration in three days. 

On Wednesday, four tribal priests carried the statues from Kannepalle, Kondai, Poonugondla villages performing prolonged rituals.

(Published 17 February 2016, 19:07 IST)

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