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Andhra Pradesh holds biggest tribal fair in Asia
The biggest tribal fair in Asia, the ‘Sammakka - Saralamma Jatara’ began on February 20. It is a state festival. Nearly 80 lakh people from AP, Maharashtra, Orissa, Chattisgarh, and UP attended it. The budget for the festival was Rs 36 crores!
POPULARLY KNOWN as the ‘Southern Kumbhamela’, the ‘Sammakka – Saralamma Jatara’, a hill festival of Andhra Pradesh, got underway on February 20, 2008. This is the biggest tribal fair witnessed in Asia. The government has declared it a ‘state festival’. The Jatara got underway at Medaram, Warangal district, Andhra Pradesh. A four-day festival, it is held every two years. This year, the government anticipated that approximately 80,00,000 people would attend the Jatara and made arrangements accordingly, to host them.
Apart from the people of Andhra Pradesh, people from Maharashtra, Orissa, Chattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh attended the festival in a big way. This festival gets underway with the deity Saralamma from the nearly hillock being brought to the venue on the evening of the first day. Tribal priests, after elaborate rituals, placed the Goddess on the main pedestal or ‘Gaddelu’. The other deity, viz, Sammakka, was installed on the evening of the second day in a similar manner.
The presiding deities were on the ‘Gaddelu’ on the third day and undertook Vanapravesam (enter the forest) to return to their abode on the last day. The district authorities strove for three months to make foolproof arrangements. The venue of this massive festival is a small Grampanchayat (village panchayat) with a population of 800. But during the festival, it was transformed into a city, with thousands of shops lining its streets and crores of rupees of business transacted. The shops mainly sold jaggery, which was submitted as ‘mokku’ to the Goddesses by the devotees. The government of Andhra Pradesh had released rupees 36 crores for the festival. For the first time, the government plied buses from all districts of the state to the venue of the Jatara. Many VIP’s and VVIP’s visited the Jatara to seek the blessings of the Goddesses.
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