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Sammakka Sarakka Jathara is one of the famous tribal festivals celebrated in the state of Telangana, India. Sammakka Sarakka Jathara is also called Medaram Jathara. Medaram is a remote place, located within Eturnagaram Wildlife Sanctuary, a part of Dandakaranya, in Mulugu. Medaram Jathara is held once every two years during the month of February at Medaram which is located at a distance of 95 km from Warangal and 260 km from Hyderabad.
Sammakka Sarakka Jathara is said to be one of the largest fairs of tribal communities in the world where no idol is worshipped. After Kumbh Mela, Sammakka Sarakka Jathara attracts the largest number of devotees in our country. Millions of people attend this fair every year. It is believed that during this fair, goddesses of tribals visit them.
In the 13th century, some tribes went hunting. On their way, they saw a newborn girl (Sammakka) emitting enormous light playing with tigers. The tribes were shocked to see this. They closed their eyes and prayed god. When they opened their eyes the tigers disappeared. They took her with them. After that, she was adopted and brought up by the head of the tribe Meda Raju. Then she was married to Pagididda Raju, a feudatory tribal chief of Kalatiyas.
This couple Pagididda Raju and Sammakka was blessed with two daughters Sarakka, Nagulamma and one son Jampanna. Once, there was heavy drought in their area and the tribes were unable to pay the taxes. Kakatiya ruler Prathaparudra was angry about this and tried to occupy the tribal territories. Sammakka, Sarakka along with their family fought against Kakatiya ruler Prathaparudra who tried to occupy the tribal territories. Sarakka, Nagulamma, Meda Raju, Pagadidda Raju lost their lives in that brutal fight. Jampanna the son of Sammakka died in the nearby stream during their battle.
Sammakka continued her fight to save the people. After the war Sammakka walked bleeding towards Chilakala Gutta and disappeared in the middle of the way. Her followers searched her and could not find her. On their way they saw Kumkum Bharina. They believed it as Sammakka. So to offer a tribute to the brave mother, Sammakka Sarakka Jathara is held.
Day-1: First day of the fair is celebrated as the arrival of Saralamma (also called as Sarakka) on to the 'Medaram Gaddhe'. Saralamma was Sammakka's daughter. In a temple at Kannepalli, a small village 3 km away from Medaram, Saralamma will be installed. Pujaris perform puja secretly in the morning on the first day. Unmarried women, the couple who wants to have children and people suffering from diseases perform special pujas on this day to Saralamma. After that, the villagers of Kannepalli perform 'Aarti' and organize grand farewell to goddess Saralamma. Then the idol of Saralamma is brought to 'Medaram Gaddhe' through 'Jampanna vagu'. Saralamma is worshipped with special pujas and rituals after arriving onto 'Medram Gaddhe'. As a part of Medaram Jathara, millions of devotees visit Saralamma and offer special pujas.
Day-2: Second day of the fair is celebrated as the arrival of Sammakka on to the 'Medaram Gaddhe'. Sammakka is welcomed officially by the district collector on behalf of the state government of Telangana. During the arrival of Sammakka, 'Edurukolla Gattam' is one of the popular events. First Pujaris bring bamboo sticks and place them on the 'Gaddhe'. Then with the protection of the police, Sammakka is brought to the Gaddhe by Pujaris. Usually, Sammakka is installed in the form of 'Kumkum Bharina' at Chilakala Gutta which is 1 km away from Medaram. As the indication of the arrival of Sammakka at Chilakala Gutta, SP fires gun thrice in the air, in presence of the district collector and inaugurates the 'Bali' to please Sammakka. Then Pujaris bring the deity on to the Gaddhe by praising Sammakka with slogans.
Day-3: On the third day of the Jathara, darshanam of Sammakka Saralamma is available for the devotees. On this day, devotees perform Punya Snanam in 'Jampanna Vagu' and visit the Goddesses. They offer various offerings to the Goddesses. Some women offer 'Saare' (a combination of necessary items) and 'Odi Biyyam (sacred rice) to Sammakka Saralamma. One of the important offerings in Sammakka Saralamma Jathara is jaggery. Jaggery that is offered to the goddesses during this fair is called 'Bangaram' (gold). This day is the busiest day among all the four days of the fair. Devotees fulfil their vows by their offerings and some people even give their hair, get married at Medaram.
Day-4: Fourth day of the Jathara is celebrated as Vana Pravesham of Sammakka and Sarakka. After worshipping the Goddesses for these three days, Sammakka and Sarakka return back to the forest on the fourth day. This is the last day of Sammakka Sarakka Jathara. While the Goddesses are returning back to the forest, the same security and homage they got while arriving on to the Gaddhe are paid to the Goddesses. On this day, Sammakka is returned back to Chilakala Gutta, Sarakka is returned back to Kannepalli, Govinda Raju is returned back to Kondai and Pagididda Raju is returned back to Punugonda by walk.
Sammakka Sarakka resembles the customs of tribes. Sammakka Sarakka Jathara starts on Magha Shuddha Pournami and continues for four days. Approximately ten million people visit Medaram to celebrate the fair, from different places of India i.e., Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Maharashtra, Karnataka and some parts of Jharkhand. Devotees offer jaggery of a quantity equal to their weight to the goddesses and take a holy bath in Jampanna Vagu. The jaggery that is offered to the goddesses in Medaram is called bangaram(gold). It is a festival that is celebrated with no Vedic or Brahmanic influence.
Till 1940 only tribals of Chilukala Gutta used to celebrate this fair. After that these celebrations gradually spread all over the state. In the beginning, the only way by which people could travel to reach Medaram was the bullock cart. In 1998, the state government declared Sammakka Sarakka Jathara 1000 years old festival as official and laid roads. During this fair traffic jam goes as far as 60 km on Warangal Highway.
In Medaram, at the place where Sammakka Sarakka fair is held, there is a tributary to river the Godavari called Jampanna Vaagu. According to the legend, Jampanna the tribal warrior and the son of Sammakka died in that stream during their battle against Kakatiya Army. So Jampanna vagu got its name from Jampanna. We find that watercolour in Jampanna vagu as red. It is believed that the red colour marked with the blood of Jampanna. (But the colour of the water is attributed to the soil composition scientifically.) Tribals believe that taking a holy dip in Jampanna vagu reminds them of the sacrifice of the gods Sammakka Sarakka, who saved them inducing courage into their souls. It is also believed that taking a holy bath in Jampanna vagu removes our sin and diseases. A bridge is constructed on the top of Jampanna Vagu. It is called Jampanna vagu bridge.
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