In a major push to the hugely popular Medaram Jatara, Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao on Friday announced a special fund of Rs 200 crore to provide permanent facilities at the abode of Sammakka and Saralamma, the tribal deities worshipped biennially as part of the jatara. He also announced that he would take up the issue of getting the festival a national tag during his next visit to New Delhi.
The Chief Minister had darshan of the deities amid tight security and made the ritual offerings, fulfilling his solemn promises that he had made at the height of the fight for Telangana State.
Later, speaking to mediapersons, he said: “Medaram Jatara is the Kumbh of the South, and it deserves the tag of national festival. Despite our representations to the Centre, it has not been considered yet. I will bring it to the notice of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on my next visit to New Delhi.”
Epitome of TS spirit
Hailing the tribal deities as the epitome of Telangana’s fighting spirit, he said he was keen on visiting the Jatara last time (two years ago) to fulfill his vows. “I could not make it because of ill-health. But the Medaram Jatara to be held the next time after two years would be a grand event. It would be organised on a mammoth scale drawing attention the world over,” he said.
Stating that the deities were worshiped once in two years, Chandrashekhar Rao said devotees were now thronging Medaram every day on a large scale. “There should be adequate facilities to meet the needs of devotees almost on a permanent basis. The venue around the “Gadde,” the platform on which the deities are worshipped, needs to be expanded further,” he observed, adding that the government would acquire 200 to 300 acres of land in its vicinity. The Chief Minister directed the District Collector to initiate the process for acquiring the land required for the purpose. Over 1.25 crore devotees are expected to visit Medaram this time.
Chandrashekhar Rao said the Rs 200 crore he had announced in addition to the Rs 80 crore sanctioned for the festival arrangements at the tribal shrine this time would be allocated in the 2018-19 budget. “There should be better facilities for devotees taking a holy dip in Jampanna Vagu,” he stressed, adding that there was a need to construct a dam across the Jampanna Vaagu to facilitate devotees taking a holy dip.
The Chief Minister wished that good sense would prevail on forces bent on stalling works on key projects that would help revive the fortunes of Telangana State by the grace of Sammakka and Saralamma. He also commended the efforts of Deputy Chief Minister Kadiam Srihari and a host of elected representatives and officials from the departments tasked with the responsibility of organising the festival in a befitting manner.
Chandrashekar Rao was accompannied by wife Shobha, daughter and Nizamabad MP Kavitha, grandson Himanshu and other family members. He offered ‘Bangaram’ (jaggery) equivalent to his weight to the goddesses and also presented sarees to them. Speaking about what he had wished this time, he said he prayed for removal of hurdles in the path of irrigation projects.
Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu also visited Medaram during the day, and Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh was also among the VIP visitors. Naidu, expressing satisfaction over the arrangements made for the devotees by the State government, said: “We need to uphold age old practices. Medaram jatara is a tribal Khumb Mela, and I hope that the whole nation will pay attention to the historic jatara.” The Vice President said he was also surprised by the huge gathering of devotees.
Naidu too hoped that the jatara would be given national festival status. Meanwhile, Deputy Speaker Padma Devender Reddy, Transport Minister P Mahender Reddy, several MLAs and people’s representatives also paid obeisance to the goddesses on Friday.