Adivasis are setting up pedestals (gaddelu) for Goddesses Sammakka and Saralamma at the tri-junction of AP, Odisha and Chhattisgarh, a point where the Sileru and Shabari meet near Kalleru village in Chinthuru mandal in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh. Kalleru is the entry point to Andhra Pradesh from Odisha, where a bridge has been recently constructed.
The Adivasis of these three states will participate in the installation of the gaddelu of Sammaka Saralamma from June 27 to 29. The Koya Adivasis will bringing in wood from the ‘Pala’ tree from the jungles on June 24. The pedestals will be inaugurated on June 27. The Kalleru Jatara will be conducted under the supervision of the descendants of Samm-akka and Saralamma who are now in Bastar.
This is for the first time that the Sammakka Saralamma pedestals are being installed in the newly-created Andhra Pradesh. With this, Andhra Pradesh will have have its own Sammakka Saralamma jatara once in two years on the lines of the Medaram Jatara that takes place in Telangana state. The Koya Adivasi population is high in the Warangal and Khammam districts of Telangana state and in East Godavari and West Godavari districts in Andhra Pradesh.
Koraput and Malkangiri districts in Odisha and Sukma, Dantewada, Bastar and Kankhed districts in Chhattisgarh state also have a large proportion of tribals.
The Sammakka Saralamma jatara, which takes place once in two years at Medaram in the old Warangal district, is one of the biggest Adivasi festivals in Asia.
Adivasis celebrate the festival to commemorate the sacrifice of Samm-akka and her daughter Salaramma to protect the interest of the community. They fought against the Kakatiya rulers’ unjust tax law and lost their lives fighting. One of the organisers of the event, Mr Sodi Murali of Chinthur mandal of East Godavari district, said, “We are making elaborate arrangements for the inauguration of the Sammakka Saralamma pedestals near Kalleru on the banks of confluence of Sileru and Shabari rivers.”
He said the devotees who visit the Sammakka Saralamma gaddelu and offer prayers can take a holy dip in the sangam. Mr Madavi Nehru of Adivasi Sankshema Parishad said the setting up the gaddelu at a sacred place near Kalleru was part of protecting their culture and carrying forward it to the new generation.
He said the Adivasis were disturbed by the division of Andhra Pradesh and the creation of new districts in Telangana. Mr Nehru said the community would organise ‘Rela Panduga’, a cultural festival, every year in Chinthur in order to preserve their unique culture. He said they would try to keep the jatara outside the influence of the endowment department.