Tens of thousands of devotees offered prayers to tribal deities at Medaram in Mulugu district of Telangana on Saturday on the last day of Medaram Jatara.
Tribals from different parts of Telangana and neighbouring states made a beeline to pay obeisance to Sammakka and Saralamma and offer jaggery as per the tradition.
The four-day fair, considered as the largest tribal fair in Asia, came to an end with the priests taking back the deities to forest as per the tradition.
Telangana Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan was among those who offered prayers on the last day of Sammakka Saralamma Jatara, the governor offered prayers and made the offerings.
The tribal priests, officials, Mulugu MLA Seetakka and others welcomed the governor, who went round the ‘Gaddelu’ and performed the special pujas duly following the traditional native rituals.
Later, interacting with the media persons, she stated that she had offered prayers for the wellbeing of the nation and the State. She extended special wishes to the tribal people on the celebration of the native tribal festival and termed the fair as one of the unique native tribal celebrations in the country.
The governor emphasized on the need to promote, protect, and perpetuate the rich and unique cultural traditions and practices of the indigenous people.
Referring to her road journey to Medaram, Soundararajan said that she thought it would give her an opportunity to better understand the conditions at the grassroots level and connect better with the people in rural and tribal habitations.
The governor highlighted the need to work intensively for the all-round development of the tribal population and stated that the Raj Bhavan’s initiative to improve the nutritional status of the people belonging to the primitive tribal groups was one such activity.
Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao, who was scheduled to visit Medaram to take part in the tribal fair on Friday, cancelled his program at the last moment. No reasons were given for the cancellation of the visit.
State ministers Errabelli Dayakar Rao, Gangula Kamalakar, Malla Reddy, Indrakaran Reddy and T. Srinivas Yadav and several MLAs of the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) were in Medaram on Friday to welcome the chief minister.
BJP’s state president Bandi Sanjay, who attended the tribal festival on Friday, slammed the chief minister for cancelling his visit. He alleged that KCR has insulted the tribal community and Telangana culture by skipping the festival.
Union minister for tourism and culture G. Kishan Reddy had also visited Medaram on Friday and participated in the rituals.
Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) president A. Revanth Reddy also had darshan at Medaram Jatara on Saturday. Like all other devotees, he offered ‘bangaram’ (jaggery) to the deities.
Revanth Reddy, who is also a member of Lok Sabha, said Medaram Jatara should be declared a national festival. He said it was unfortunate that the state and the central governments were not giving proper recognition to the festival, which is next only to Kumbh Mela.
Over a crore people are estimated to have visited Jatara during the last few days. Many devotees offered prayers even before the beginning of the fair on February 16.
Tribals congregate at Medaram once in two years to celebrate the valour of legendary warriors Sammakka and Sarakka.
The tribals treat them as goddesses and hail their bravery in trying to protect them. Belonging to the Koya tribe, the mother-daughter duo died while fighting against the Kakatiya empire.
The legend is that Sammakka and her daughter Saralamma fought against levy of taxes on tribals during drought conditions by the then Kakatiya rulers in the 12th century.
Tribal king Medaraju was ruling the tribal habitations on the banks of river Godavari, and was supposed to pay a royalty to the Kakatiya kings. However, due to severe prolonged drought, Medaraju failed to pay a royalty. Treating it as defiance, the Kakatiya Kings invaded the region. Fighting with the Kakatiya army, Medaraju and all kin died. His daughter Sammakka and her daughter Sarakka or Saralamma too died in the fight.
According to local lore, Sammakka who was fatigued went above the Chilukalagutta hillocks and disappeared. The Adivasis who reportedly went in search of her only found a casket of vermilion under a bamboo tree.