Medaram (Warangal): On normal days, this village looks deserted. The endless silence is almost scary if travelling alone from Tadvai to the tiny Medaram, deep in the forests of Eturnagaram.
But during this time once every two years, the endless silence gives way to the biggest tribal congregation in the continent for the Sammakka-Saralamma jatara.
Medaram constitutes about 100 households in about 1 sq.km radius.
During the jatara, the village resembles a heavily populated city. Lakhs of devotees put up temporary settlements in a radius of about 7 km.
Small businesses come up in large numbers. There is no end to the row of shops that sell various items, right from shoes, bangles, play items for kids, hens to jaggery and groceries. Eateries and kiosks spring up.
With devotees visiting the temple round-the-clock for darshan, most of these shops remain open all 24 hours of the day. An entire section close to the temple is dedicated to circus and exhibitions, inviting visitors to take a look.
Traditionally, tribals stay at Medaram for four days and raise temporary settlements. One can find as many settlements as one can see while standing near Jampanna vagu and near Chilakalagutta.
Tents made of knitted cement bags or even sarees or old clothes tied to bamboo sticks come up. Some people just simply sit on the road side keep their luggage around that marks their territory. The four-day jatara continues to be full of life till the tribal deities go back to the forest.
GHMC to help out in Medaram
The sanitation department is taking up a Herculean task of clearing garbage at Medaram Jatara. With lakhs of devotees making their way to the biggest tribal festival, garbage is being thrown everywhere near the temple surroundings.
Devotees who arrived in the village in large numbers installed temporary settlements around the temple and on the banks of the Jampanna vagu. A large number of business establishments have also come up. About 5,000 tonnes of garbage is generated at Medaram during this period.
Sanitation workers in large numbers were seen cleaning the roads and clearing the garbage from time to time. The temple premises too became very dirty with devotees throwing garbage everywhere. Keeping the situation in view, 600 workers from Khammam, Hyderabad and Rajahmundry corporations were roped in as part of the sanitation team.
Chief public relations officer K. Venkata Ramana said the GHMC has extended its services by sending 35 small auto trolleys to shift the garbage. About 3,000 sanitation workers are working to keep the surroundings clean at Medaram.
Fewer devotees for this year’s jatara
Even as there was a heavy influx of people, devotees who arrived at the village this year said the crowd was smaller than previous years. The Samakka-Sara-lamma jatara at Meda-ram, held once in two years, is considered to be the biggest tribal fair on the continent.
“We have been coming to the jatara for a long time. Our family comes here and stays until the jatara is completed. This year, there is a smaller crowd. Usually there would be no place for one to stand for a minute. Every inch is occupied by the devotees. But this time the crowd is a little smaller," said Kandula Nagamma from Kodad.
Devotees across the Telugu-speaking states and states like Mahar-ashtra, Odisha and Kar-nataka attend the fest. But this year the devotees started arriving to Medaram way early, from November. Many came early to avoid the huge crowd during the four days of the jatara.
BSNL principal general manger K. Narender said the call traffic registered at the jatara was at 2010 levels. “On February 16, there was call traffic of 4.5 lakh. On Thursday, the number doubled to just a little over 9 lakh. In 2010 we registered a similar number on the same day,” he said....