Ganga Jatara festival
History & Culture
17th May, 2019
- The entire Chittoor town of Andhra Pradesh and its surrounding villages are gearing up for the famous Ganga Jatara, scheduled to commence from May 14.
- Thousands of people from Andhra Pradesh and neighbouring States of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka are reaching Chittoor town to take part in this festival.
What is Ganga Jatara festival?
- It is the annual folk festival of Tirupati in Chittoor town of Andhra Pradesh.
- This festival is to offer prayers to Sri Thathaya Gunta Gangamma, the Gramadevata (the goddess looking after the village) of Tirupati.
Why is it celebrated?
- When Tirupati and surrounding areas were ruled by Palegondulu, harassment on women was enormous.
- During this time, in a village - Avilala, the Goddess Gangamma was born and grew into a most beautiful woman.
- When the Palegondulu wanted to harm Goddess Gangamma, she with her grace and power tried to kill him. Palegondulu, fearing her, hid in a remote place.
- To take him out of hiding, the Gangamma planned "Ganga Jathara" where the people in Tirupathi do vichitra veshadarana and curse Gangamma for a period of 7 days.
- On the seventh day, the Palegondulu came out of hiding and was killed by Goddess Gangamma for the LokaKalyanam (well-being of all people).
- This festival celebrates this killing.
The Celebrations: It is a week-long event which falls on second week of May every year.
- The festival begins with Chatimpu (the official announcement) during midnight of 2nd Tuesday of the month of May by playing musical instruments known as Dappu. Town folk stay away from streets during Chatimpu.
- Day 1: Bhairagi Vesham - People used to smear their body with white colour paste (Namam Kommu) and wear a garland made of fruit Rella Kaya. They hold neem leaves with the hand and also tie their waist with neem leaves. They walk to the temple through the city and leave those neem leaves and Rella Kaya garland there at the temple after the darshan of the Goddess.
- Day 2: Banda Vesham - On this day devotees use to smear their body with kumkum colour paste and tie a ribbon to the head.
- Day 3: Thoti Vesham - On this day devotees used to smear their body with charcoal and wear a garland made out of neem leaves.
- Day 4: Sunnapu Gandalu - Devotees smear their body with white colour paste and apply dots with charcoal and carry a pot (Veyyi kalla Dutta) on their head.
- Day 5: Dora Vesham - On this day devotees use to smear their body with sandal paste (Chandanam) and wear a garland made out of neem leaves and lemons.
- Day 6: Mathangi Vesham - Gangamma who killed Palegadu in Dhora Vesham, consoles Chieftain's wife in Mathangi Vesham.
- Day 7: Gangamma Jatara - The last day of the festival is celebrated as Ganga Jatara. During this day, all Gangamma temples in Tirupati are flocked with lakhs of devotees.
- People use to visit temple and offer Pongallu and/or Sarees to Gangamma.
- Few Devotees use to have darshan of Gangamma by wearing Sapparalu (A special gopuram like object made of bamboo) along with Dappu Vaidyam (a musical instrument).
- Ragi Ambali is served to the devotees visiting temples all over the city.
- After the midnight, a clay idol of Gangamma (Viswaroopam) is installed in front of the Temple. The portico is smashed into pieces.
- Devotees then clamour around to get the clay smithereens, which they consider as sacred, to be either preserved in the ‘Puja' room or consumed by mixing it in water. The clay is believed to have curing powers.
- By this event the entire seven-day Jatara will come to an end.