Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Sammakka Sarakka Mahatyam

Sammakka Sarakka Mahatyam. One can feel the real presence of the Goddesses as soon as you enter the forest of Medaram. Around 90 Lakhs devotees visited the holy place of Medaram in the year 2006. Medarm is located in Warangal District of Andhra Pradesh (India) and devotees from states of Orissa, MP, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra visit the Jatara which is held once in every two years.  It is estimated that 20 Lakhs Hajj pilgrims visited Mecca and around 30 Lakhs people visited the famous Vatican City in the year 2005

A little festival of tribal origin in Andhra Pradesh has become a major pilgrimage in the last six years. The Sammakka festival is held once in every two years at Medaram,  in the heart of the thick forests of Warangal district. The population of the little forest village at Medaram in normal times never exceeds 300. Suddenly, during the month of February it rises to over 90 Lakhs.... of devotees come from all over Andhra Pradesh and five neighboring states. This festival is held to get the blessings of goddesses Sammakka and Sarakka. It's believed that in those 3 to 4 days of the Jatara, goddesses real presence is felt.

People believe in Goddesses Sammakka, Sarakka fulfill their desires with their divine and miraculous powers. Issueless Couples visit to pray the goddesses to bless them with children while young girls pray for good life partners.

Many a pilgrim pay their promises made to goddess during the Jatra, by offering Jaggery, calfs, coconuts and donations in cash etc. Pilgrims take bathe in  Jampanna stream to get purified and absolve from sins.

On the special day - Maghasudha pournami

The actual festival begins in the month of Magha, on Sudha Pournami (full moon day) evening when Sarakka (in the form of a vermilion) would be traditionally brought from Kanneboyinapalle, a  neibhouring  village in the forest, and placed on a gadde, an earthen platform raised under a tree. 
By next sunset,the main goddess Sammakka (in the form of a vermilion) will be brought  from Chilukalagutta. There are two gaddes (platforms) Separately one for goddess "Sammakka" and other for goddess "Sarakka".  They are represented by bamboo sticks smeared with turmeric and vermilion (Pasupu and Kunkuma). Since time immemorial, there is a huge tree standing on Sammakka gadde. 
When the priests bring out the ochre box and other relics from a hidden forest location, there is great tumult with frenzied beating of drums, blowing of trumpets and full throated yells. It is said that during the festival a huge tiger prowls around peacefully. Offerings are coconuts and jaggery. They are piled at the foot of the trees..

Origin of Jatara   (History, Mythology)

There are many legends about the miraculous powers of sammakka . According to a tribal story, about 6-7 centuries ago,that is in the 13th century, some tribal leaders who went for a hunting found a new born girl (Sammakka) emitting enormous light playing amidst tigers. She was taken to their habitation . The head of the tribe adopted her and brought up as a chief tain (She later became the saviour of the tribals of the region) she was married to Pagididda Raju a feudatory tribal chief of Kakatiyas(who ruled the country of Andhra from Warangal City between 1000 AD and 1380 AD).She was blessed with 2 daughters and one son namely Sarakka, Nagulamma and Jampanna respectively.
After sometime, there was a severe drought that lasted for years and as a result the mighty Godavari River dried up.   pagedde Raju didn't pay tribute to King Pratapa Rudra. In turn king Pratapa rudra sent his army to subdue the tribals and collect the tribute. Then a War was fought between tribal chief pagidde Raju and Kakatiya army on the banks of "Sampenga Vagu" (Jampanna Vagu). The Koya army fought valiantly but could not with stand the well equipped Kakatiya army. Though fought valiantly Pagididda Raju, his daughters Sarakka, Nagulamma, son in law Govinda Raju lost (husband of Sarakka) lives in the battle. Later Jampanna also dies in Sampenga Vagu (after renamed as Jampanna Vagu in the memory of his heroic fight against well trained Kakatiya army). .
Upon hearing this news Sammakka also enters war and fights and causes lot of damage to kakatiya army. Surprised by her Bravery And Valour the Kakatiya Prime Minister visited war ravaged Koya kingdom with proposal of peace and offered Sammakka a place in the emperor’s harem as the chief queen.  Samakka turned down the offer and resolved to continue the fight to avenge the dead.   The battle continued and Sammakka was seriously wounded .  Samakka told her people that as long as they remembered her, she would protect them.  Then, she cursed the Kaktiya dynasty to perish  And with that wounded body 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 … and the pug marks of a huge full grown tigress, exactly the same place where she was found as a infant by the koyas.  The Kakatiya dynasty came to an end very soon. Since then the Koyas, Waddaras and other Indian tribes and castes have been holding festivals in memory of Sammakka and Sarakka regularly .

Historical significance of the place  Dandakaranya   
This is the place whereLord Sri Rama along with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana made their abode for a while during  their  14-year exile in the forest.  It is here that Lakshmana cut off the ears and nose of Surpanakha, sister of Emperor Ravana of Sri Lanka.It is here that  Rama killed maricha and destroyed 14-thousand strong infantry of Khara, Dushana and Trisira. History behind the Dandakaranya forest: Ikshvaku was the ruler of the kingdom that extended from Vindhya Mountains to Himalaya Mountains. He had hundred sons, among them Danda (danDa) on whose name this uninhabitable forest was called as dandakaranya. (Uttara Ramayana).  Andhra Pradesh falls into dandakaranya area.

How the festival day will be like…?

    This tiny village located in the thick forest area witness surging crowds start a week before the festival. Hundreds of private and Govt vehicles will be engaged in transporting countless number of pilgrims flocking the venue of historic Sammakka Sarakka jatara site. The Gaddelu, the sanctum sanctorum of this jatara site, will be filled to maximum and the devotees continue to throng the venue. The whole of Medaram village will be lit up for the celebrations. Hundreds of shops and petty business enterprises come up all over. The pilgrims will be  seen spread over 9 km around the venue. Temporary dwellings  spring up presenting a spectacular sight.

Sammakka Sarakka Jathara is going to start in 2nd week (8th to 11th) of Feb for 2012 year. i.e magha sudha pournami days. The Jatra 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. Sammakka Jatra is a state festival of govt. of Andhra Pradesh.


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