Sammakka Sarakka Jathara or Medaram Jathara is a festival of tribal origin in Telangana and has become an important pilgrimage in their culture. This festival is celebrated in memory and honor of goddesses Sammakka and Saralamma in the State of Telangana, India. they pay tribute through the valiant fight of the mother and daughter duo meanwhile Sammakka and Saralamma are against the Kakatiya dynasty rulers protesting the extortion of land tribute even at the time of drought.
The Sammakka festival is held every two years in Medaram Village of Tadvai Mandal in the dense thick forests of Mulugu district. Every year people came to the festival to enjoy it, the fact is the normal population of the forest village is 300 but at the time of the festival it exceeds more than 3500000, millions of people and devotees come from across the different states to gather in this festival.
Sammakka Saralamma Jathara History:
It is said that people celebrate this festival in the memory of Koya tribal queen called Sammakka who fought against the medieval dynasty of the Kakatiya rulers between 1000 AD to 1380 AD. Over the centuries, Telangana’s region was a symbol of rebellion and conflict, thanks to the legacy of Sammakka and Sarakka who fought against the Kakatiya rulers. This festival also inspires many people’s movements and struggles for this state against Nizam’s armies and forces, the struggle of farmers and agricultural laborers, and the people’s war.
Sarakka and Sammakka laid their lives in protecting the tribals of Medaram, and they were called the goddess by tribals and other people also. Lakhs of tribals and non-tribals gather at Medaram village, located 100km far in the deep forest from the district of headquarters to recall the struggle of their ancestors. According to the stories of the legends, they were moved by the bravery of tribal women, the nature has the reward their struggles.
The story behind the Sammakka goddess is, about 6-7 centuries ago may be in the 13th century, some tribals walked across the dense thick forests for hunting and they found a new-born girl playing with tigers, and the Koyas defeat the tigers and one head of the tribal adopted the child since then she was named Sammakka. As she grew up into a fine young woman and married the head of tribal Pagididda Raju of a neighboring village. She had 3 children, 2 daughters and one son namely, Sarakka, Nagulamma, and Jampanna. So, her daughter Sarakka and both mother and daughter were reputed for their helpful and kind nature.
Furthermore, Pratapa Rudra-II of the Kakatiya Dynasty defeated the Polavasa and other neighboring regions. the tribal leader Pagididda Raju was unable to pay the taxes of Pratapa Rudra II, so one spokesperson or messenger of Kakatiya’s ruler complains to him that Medaraju was provoking the people against payment of taxes. And to show his anger on this, he called a war against the entire tribal community.
When the tribals were unable to pay the taxes, even though they had hardly enough to eat themselves, the army of the Kakatiya ruler returned empty-handed without having taxes, the king was angry and sent large forces to collect the taxes brutally. Then the minister of Koya comes and offered peace and also offered Sammakka a place in the king’s queen. Sammakka turned down and said she had no faith in the king’s promises and started fighting against them, many Koyas has been killed already by that time. During the battle, Sammakka was wounded deeply and she fled into the deep forests. The armed forces were behind her and they found some red ochre boxes and bangles and the marks of a full-grown tigress. While escaping Sammakka also told the people as long as people remember her, she will be there with them always. Since then, the Koyas and Waddaras celebrates and hold festivals in memory of Sammakka. In every two years, Koya a priest ceremonially brings the ochre box and things of Sammakka and places them at the foot of a tree symbolizing Saralamma, her daughter against Koyas warriors. It is said that during the festival a huge tiger moves around quietly.
The Government has declared it a `State festival’ and has been sanctioning a huge amount for organizing it every 2 years. More than 8 lakh pilgrims, including tribals from Chattisgarh, Orissa, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, and different regions of Telangana come to attend the festival every time.
Until the year 1998, the only way to reach Medaram was by a bullock cart. And in 1998 the state government declared this 1000-yr old festival official and with a motorable road. And in the past few years, the gatherings in the Jathara festival are nearly 10 million. This event is said to be the largest repeat of believers of tribal communities in the world.