Sammakka Sarakka Festival
A Famous Sammakka Saralamma Jathara, also known to be MedaramSammakka Sarakka Jatara, is the largest tribalfestival in the world. It is held once in two years with lot of gusto for 4 days during Magha Purnima. In 2012, Medaram Sammakka Sarakka Jathara dates are – Jatara starts on February 8 and ends on February 11. It is celebrated at Medaram village near Yeturu Nagaram of Warangal district in Andhra Pradesh.
Sammakka Sarakka jatara is an indeginiuos tribal festival with no vedic or brahmanic influence. Remote place in the Eturunagaram wildlife Sanctuary, a part of Dandakaranya, the largest surviving forest belt in the Deccan, is the place located Medaram. It is spread over five states and numerous tribes inhabit it. The beloved goddesses of the tribals visit them in this time every year in Medaram. This festival held once in two years.
The forest is tranformed into a cosmopolis, all the buses in Telangana head towards Medaram, when people are weighed in bangaram(jaggery) which is offered to the Gods, when countless bullock carts march towards the jungles of Medaram, the largest tribal congregation in the universe, when there are 60km long traffic jams in Warangal.Things not changed much more as they are in the Kakatiyan times about 1000 years ago. Until very recently the only way to reach Medaram was by a bullock cart. Apart from the four days of the biannial festival, there is not a soul moving there. It was a remote place with no road or transportation.It was only in 1998 that the govt of AP declared the 1000 year old festival as official and laid down a transportable road.Its ocean of humanity at the four-day Sammakka Sarakka Jatra, 6 million people were attended the festival in 2004. It is the second largest religious Festival after the Maha Kumbh Mela which happens once in 12 years.About 1,000 years ago, a group of Koya tribals passing through the region found a little girl playing with a tigres. The head of the tribe adopted and named her Sammakka. She married the headman of a neighbouring village and Sarakka was born to them.
Sammakka stood up against the Kakatiyas – who ruled Andhra from Warangal between 1000 and 1380 AD – when they tried to collect taxes from Koyas despite a severe drought. The rulers killed many tribals and Sammakka fought against them to revenge the killings.During the fighting, Samakka and her daughter Sarakka were injured. She told the Koyas that as long as they remembered her, she would protect them. She cursed the Kakatiya dynasty that they would perish and disappeared into the forest.
Koyas searched for their queen but found only her bangles and the pugmarks of a tigress. Later, Muslim invaders destroyed the Kakatiya dynasty. Since then the tribals have been holding the fair in memory of the two women, whom they revere
Attired in their best costumes and dancing to folk tunes and drum beats, the tribes people began gathering for the fair from Wednesday at Medaramm. The tribal priests bringing goddess Sarakka – also known as Saralamma – after prayers at Kanneboinapalli village, eight km from Medaram. Walking behind in the path trod by Sarakka in the belief it will bring happiness and prosperity to the devotees. Thousands take a holy dip in the Jampanna Vagu, a rivulet, before offering obeisance to the deity. Many women believe a bath in the rivulet will get them good husbands. As the unmarried girls took the dip, priests blessed them. ‘Shiva sathis’ (wives of Lord Shiva) applied turmeric all over the bodies of the girls and sprinkled vermilion on them.Late in the evening the deity was seated on ‘gadde’ (pedestal), as tens of thousands of devotees vied with each other to touch the pedestal, swaying deliriously to music.
The tribals will be arrive here from different parts of Andhra Pradesh and neighbouring states like Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa to worship two legendary tribal women – Sammakka and Sarakka. Goats and hens are sacrificed in thousands and there is a lot of liquor going around. The rituals performed during the festival unfurl the tribal spirit in its purest form.