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Sammakka Saralamma Jathara Medaram – Asia’s biggest religious congregation

Sammakka Saralamma Jathara – The Biggest Biennial Fair of India

Sammakka Saralamma Jatara Festival Dates for the year 2014: 12-Feb-2014 to 15-Feb-2014

Sammakka Saralamma Medaram Jathara Photos
Devotees at Sammakka Saralamma Gadde at Medaram

Sammakka Sarakka Jathara is going to start in 2nd week (12th to 15th of Feb for 2014 year). i.e magha sudha pournami days. The Jathara begins at Medaram in Tadvai mandal of Warangal district in the month of February once in every two years and will continue for 3 days.

Tribal communities in India have time and again contributed substantially to the cultural vaults of the country. Their unique traditions and lifestyle have helped to add a rich diversity to Indian culture. The biennial celebration of Samakka Saralamma Jathara held in Medaram is one such example. This is a tribal fair that originates in Medaram, a quaint village in Tadvai Mandal in Warangal District of Telangana, and therefore is also known as Medaram Jathara. The Sammakka Saralamma Jathara is however not confined within Medaram but has assumed a Pan-Indian dimension with participation of devotees from Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Karnataka, Chattisgarh, parts of Jharkand and Maharashtra.

Sammakka Saralamma Medaram Jathara - Jampanna wagu
Devotees taking holy bath at Jampanna Wagu at Medaraam – Image Courtesy: srisrilara.blogspot.com

The Samakka Saralamma Jathara is observed in the month of January –February of every year that ends with an even year. It is probably one of the biggest tribal congregations drawing the maximum number of tribal communities from all over the country. In fact, after the Kumbha Mela, the Samakka Saralamma Jathara has been identified as the most popular event in terms of head count.

Sammakka Saralamma Jathara is a four day event and is observed on the full moon night of the month of Magha (January –February). One the full moon day (Pournami), Goddess Saralamma (in the form of vermilion) is traditionaly brought from the village Kanneboyinapalle (a neighbouring village of Medaram). Vermilion of Goddess Saralamma is placed is placed on the gadde (platform) at Medaram.

By the next sunset, the main goddess Sammakka (in the form of vermilion) will be brought from Chilukalagutta and placed on the gadde (platform). This activity is perfomed by the local priests with beating of drums, blowing of trumpets and full throated yells. The two gaddes (platforms) are adjacent to each other and are represented by bamboo sticks smeared with Pasupu (turmeric) and Kumkuma (vermilion). The hige tree standing on the Sammakka Gadde is is present since ages.

View of devotees at Sammakka Saralamma Medaram Jathara
View of devotees at Sammakka Saralamma Medaram Jathara – Image Courtesy: srisrilara.blogspot.com

Rituals associated with the fair are devoid of any brahmanic or Vedic mantras or influences. It is completely based on human belief and customs. The rituals commence when a tribal boy belonging to the Koya community is entrusted, through a divine vision, with the task of finding out the goddesses Samakka and Sarakka from the nearby forest. He tirelessly seeks them out and carries them safely back to the village. The goddesses arrive in the form of vermillion caskets and are placed with full rituals and customs on a flat platform (also known as Gaddhe) built beneath the Nagavruksham tree. This signals the start of festivities not only in Medaram but across all other tribal villages which have similar platforms constructed.

The story of tribal goddesses Sammakka and Sarakka have become legendary in tribal households and people arrive in huge crowds to seek their blessings and offer their prayers at the fair. According to a legend, 7 centuries ago (around 13th century AD) some tribals of Medaram forest area who went for hunting found a new born girl (Goddess Sammakka) amidst tigers. The new born girl was emitting enormous light. The tribal head adopted her and she got married to Pagididda Raju. Pagididda Raju was a feudatory tribal chief of Kakatiya rulers of Warangal. Sammakka is blessed with two daughters and one son namely Saralamma, Nagulamma and Jampanna respectively. One year, Padididda Raju could not pay the tribute to Kakatiya King Prataparudra due to severe drought in the region. Even the Godavari river dried up and the drought lasted for some years. King Prataparudra sent his army to collect the to collect the tribute from the tribals. The war between tribals and Kakatiya army happened on the banks of Sampenga wagu (later known as Jampanna wagu). Padididda Raju, his daughters Saralamma, Nagulamma, son in law Govindaraju (Saralamma’s husband) lost lives in the battle against Kakatiyas army. Later Jampanna also dies in the Sampenga wagu. Sampenga wagu is later renamed to Jampanna wagu for his heroic fight).

Devotees dancing at Sammakka Saralamma Jathara at Medaram Warangal
Devotees dancing at Sammakka Saralamma Jathara at Medaram Warangal

After hearing the news, Sammakka also participates in the war and causes lot of damage to Kakatiyas army. Suprised by her bravery, Kakatiyas Prime Minister visited Koya kingdom and requested for peace and offered Sammakka a place in Kakatiyas emperire as a chief queen but Samakka turned down the offer. The battle continued and Sammakka was wounded seriously. She told her people that as long as they remembered her, she would protect them. And with that wounded body she proceeded towards Chilakala gutta and disappeared in the forest. The grieving Koyas searched for their queen all they found were a red ochre box(a container of vermilion), her bangles. Since then the Koyas, Waddaras and other Indian tribes and castes have been holding festivals in memory of Sammakka and Sarakka regularly .

The tradition of Sammakka Saralamma Jathara is one has to visit Gatamma temple and offer a coconut before visiting Medaram. If you dont visit Gatamma devalayam, you visit to Sammakka Saralamma temple is never complete. Even the public transport buses stop at Gatamma devalayam for the convinience of the devotees. After reaching Medaram, devotees cleanse themselves in the Jampanna Vagu, a stream that flows close to the place of the fair. They also offer huge amounts of jaggery, equal to their own weight, to the Goddesses. The jaggery is later distributed amongst the other devotees.

View of Jammappa Wagu at Sammakka Saralamma Jathara
View of Jammappa Wagu at Sammakka Saralamma Jathara – Image Courtesy: Adarsh Gupta (flickr)

The belief in the power of the legendary Goddesses strengthens the popularity of the fair. The fair is a colorful experience as people arrive in beautifully decorated bullock carts to participate in the festivities and get blessed by Sammakka and Sarakka. This fair is also a popular destination for tourists not only from India but also from across the world as this is regarded as the best opportunity for savoring the real taste of tribal art and culture.

Medaram is a small village in the Eturnagaram foest area of Telangana. During Sammakka Saralla Jathara, around 1.5 crore devotees visit this places (in 4 days of Jathara) . This jathara is Asia’s biggest religious congregation and also called as Telangana’s Kumbh Mela.

People believe that Goddesses Sammakka, Saralamma fulfill their desires with their divine and miraculous powers. Issueless Couples visit to pray the goddess to bless them with children. Many pilgrim pay their promises made to goddess during the Jathara, by offering Jaggery, calf’s, coconuts and donations in cash etc. Pilgrim bath in the Jampanna stream to get purified and absolve from sins. Apart from Telangana, lots of devotees from the neighbouring states of Telangana also visit Medaram.

The fair is held to commemorate or celebrate the bravery of the mother daughter duo Samakka and Saralamma (also known as Sarakka) who put up a strong fight against the injustice of the then rulers and their unfair ways of governance.

Sammakka Saralamma Medaram Jathara
Sammakka Saralamma Medaram Jathara

Special Attractions:
– Experience the unique traditions and culture of tribal life
– The unique Telangana traditions
– 1.5 crore devotees in just 4 days
– The feel of fair watching so many devotees is a great feel of life.
– Tons and tons of Jaggery being offered to Goddess

Nearby Attractions:
– Gatamma Devalayam
– Jampanna Vagu
– Ramappa Temple, Palampet
– Laknavaram Lake

Location of Medaram:
– Medaram village is located amidst the Eturnagaram forest area of Warangal, Telangana.
– Tadvai forest area is located near to Medaram.
– Ramappa Temple is around 60 kms far from Medaram.

Distance to Medaram:
– Distance from Hanamkonda (Warangal) is 95 Kms.
– Distance from Hyderabad is 237 Kms
– Distance from Karimnagar is 166 Kms

Journey Time by Road:
– 2 hours drive from Waranganl (Hanamkonda).
– 5 hours drive from Hyderabad
– 4 hours drive from Karimnagar

Warangal to Medaram Route by Road:
– Drive straight on Warangal road.Take right at Maruthi showroom at Molugu cross road. Drive ahead on Molugu-Tadvai road.

How to reach Medaram – Public Transport:
– During normal times, many of buses ply from Hanamkonda bus stand to Medaram.
– During the Jathara time, special buses are arranged by state government. Special buses ply from all the districts of Telangana to Medaram.

Nearest Railway Station:
– Kazipet Junction Railway station is the major railway station near to Medaram.
– One can reach kazipet or Warangal by train. From Warangal, one can get plently of buses to Medaram.

Where to Stay (Medaram Sammakka Saralamma Jathara Accommodation):
– As Medaram is situated in forest area, construction of Hotels is prohibited in that area.
– There is Tourism guesthouse at Medaram which is mainly used by government officials.
– One can get comfortable accommodation at Hanamkonda/Warangal.

Useful Contact Numbers:
– Warangal Police – 100 : Very useful number during Jathara time. Warangal police takes the responsibility of security and safety of the devotees visitng Medaram. There are many kiosks arranged by Warangal Police on the way to Medaram which are very much accessible to all the devotees.
– State Tourism Department – 040 – 23450444
Warangal Tourism: 0870-2459201

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