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Medaram Jatara: A sacred gathering of devotion and tradition 


File photo of devotees carrying Bonam on the second day of the medaram jatra, one of the biggest tribal festivals of the country, organised at Medaram village of Mulugu district of Telangana.
| Photo Credit: G.N. Rao

MULUGU

The Medaram Jatara, spanning four days, stands at the pinnacle of spiritual significance for devotees who eagerly await this occasion every two years. This event is a testament to the devotion of the Koya tribe, who are joined by people from all walks of life, to commemorate a revolt led by Sammakka and Saralamma, a mother-daughter duo, against the levy of taxes on the tribal populace during a period of drought by the Kakatiya rulers in the 12th century. Though it has started as a small gathering of the Koya tribals, it earned the State festival status in 1998.

Scheduled from February 21 to 24, this year, this festival pays homage to the revered Goddesses Sammakka and Saralamma, and is observed biennially in the month of Magha (February) on the full moon day. Beyond its religious fervour, the Jatara serves as a platform for fostering understanding and harmony between visitors and tribal communities, promoting the preservation of their unique traditions, culture, and heritage on a global scale.

Months before the official commencement on February 21, devotees began streaming into Medaram, a quaint village nestled within the Eturnagaram wildlife sanctuary in the Mulugu district. With an estimated daily footfall of around one lakh pilgrims as on today, officials anticipate a higher turnout compared to previous years and would touch nearly two crore. Visitors from Telangana, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, and Odisha converge upon the shrine, creating a vibrant tapestry of cultural exchange.

At the heart of the Jatara, exhibitions and circuses captivate attendees, while a sprawling network of makeshift shops, including liquor stalls, adorn the area spanning over 10 kilometers. Accommodation, albeit scarce, commands exorbitant rates ranging from ₹30,000 to ₹50,000 for a single room due to the limited availability of housing in Medaram’s 300 households.

For those unable to afford such steep prices, tents become temporary sanctuaries in the surrounding forests, while farmers capitalise on the influx by offering their fields for rent. Excise officials prepare to issue temporary liquor licenses to cater to the demand, with plans for a dedicated depot to supply the shops during the festivities. “Farmers in villages like Reddygudem, Chalwai, Tadvai, and Narlapur also cash in on this wonderful opportunity and earn some extra bucks. They have temporarily halted cultivation and are offering their fields on rent to pilgrims to set up tents,” said Prathap Singh, a resident of Tadwai.

In tandem with these preparations, the State government facilitates online offerings of jaggery, locally known as Bangaram, for devotees wishing to contribute to the rituals. “The State government is making arrangements for the smooth conduct of the fair with a total of ₹110 crore, with ₹75 crore already released and an additional ₹35 crore awaiting clearance,” Ila Tripathi, District Collector and Nodal Officer for the Jatara, said.

Enhancing the visitor experience, plans are underway to introduce helicopter services from Hanamkonda to Medaram, providing aerial views of the Jatara and surrounding forested landscapes. “We will announce the details of heliride in a day or two,” Kusuma Surya Kiran, Assistant Tourism Promotion Officer, said.

Moreover, nearby attractions such as the Ramappa Temple, the Laknavaram Lake, and the megalithic burials offer additional cultural and historical insights for tourists exploring the region.

Medaram shrine, located approximately 110 km from Warangal’s Hanamkonda area, 259 km from Hyderabad, 155 km from Kaleshwaram, and 175 km from Sironcha of Maharashtra, is well connected by roads, facilitating easy access for devotees. RTC buses and personal vehicles offer convenient transportation options, with special trains expected to run from Secunderabad to Warangal, enabling devotees travelling by train to reach Medaram via vehicles from Warangal railway station.



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