The entire area was filled with devotees, tribal and non-tribal, who came to participate in the historic four-day Sammakka Saralamma jatara. The festival started off on a traditional note as it had been for centuries. The scenic surroundings of the Tadvai forest range of the Eturunagaram wildlife sanctuary, Medaram, the tiny village of the tribal majority Mulugu district in Telangana, was filled with a sea of humanity.
There was reverence all around as tens of thousands of devotees, mostly Adivasis from the tribal areas of the state as well as from Andhra Pradesh, Chattisgarh, and other states, came in starting from the early hours of Wednesday, February 16.
The biennial tribal fair is in commemoration of Sammakka and Saralamma, the mother-daughter duo who waged a brave fight against the reigning rulers for levying taxes on tribals during the 12th century, according to local lore. It is considered to be the largest coming together of tribals in the country.
A group of priests brought Saralamma from Kannepally village in a customary procession in keeping with age-old customs to Medaram, where they installed the deity on the altar, marking the formal start of the festival. Collector S Krishna Aditya and assistant superintendent of police Sudhir R Kekan were among those present.
The devotees also took a bath in Jampannavagu, a tributary of Godavari, before worshipping the goddess. On the second day, Sammkka was brought to the altar from nearby Chilakalagutta forest abode to enable the devotees to worship both the goddesses.
The district administration declared local holidays on Feb 16 and 17 in Agency areas of Mulugu district and a local holiday in the entire district on February 18 as the festival has been declared a state festival.