By Mohan Lalit and Pradeep Bairaboina
Sammakka Saralamma Jatara (famously known as Medaram Jatara) is a tribal festival celebrated every two years (biennually) in Medaram, located about 100km from Warangal, Telangana.
This is a festival of honouring the fight of a mother (Sammakka) and daughter (Saralamma) with the reigning rulers against an unjust law.
Medaram Jatara, which is a state festival of Government of Telangana, is believed to be the largest tribal congregation in the world and India’s second largest in terms of number of devotees after Kumbha Mela.
About 10 million people visited the Jatara in 2012 and this number could go up even further this year. The Jatara will be held from 31 January to 3 February this year.
Legend of Sammakka Saralamma Jatara
There are many stories of Sammakka. According to a tribal story, about seven centuries ago, few tribal people found a new born girl (Sammakka) in the forest on their way to the hunting.
Tribals were surprised to see that she is emitting enormous light playing amidst tigers. They took her along with them. She was adopted and brought up as a chief of the tribe.
Later, Sammakka was married to Pagididda Raju, a feudatory tribal chief of Kakatiya rulers. They were blessed with two daughters and one son namely Sarakka, Nagulamma and Jampanna respectively.
Sammakka, Pagididda Raju and their children are believed to have died in a battle fighting against Kakatiya Army.
In the same battle, Jampanna died in a canal (vagu) that is now known as Jampanna Vagu. Tribals believe that taking a holy dip in the Jampanna Vagu reminds them the sacrifice of their Gods who save them.
This is a tribal affair, there will be no vedic or brahmanic influence on the festival, which is celebrated over four days.
Devotees offer jaggery (bangaram/gold) in a quantity equal to their weight to the Goddesses.
The first day (Wednesday) of Jathara is celebrated as the arrival of Saralamma on to the ‘Medaram Gaddhe’ (Platform) in the form of Kumkum Bharani.
The second day (Thursday) marks the arrival Sammakka to the platform also in the form of Kumkum Bharani. On the Sammakka’s arrival, the district Superintendent of Police fires his gun thrice in the air and inaugurates the ‘bali’ to please the Goddess.
Sammakka Saralamma darshanam is available to devotees on the third day and the last day of Jatara is celebrated as Vana Pravesham of Sammakka and Sarakka. This concludes the four-day tribal festival.
A peep into the world’s largest tribal festival: Video by Govt of Telangana