Punganur Jatara gets off to a colourful start
People gather to take part in Jatara at Punganur on Tuesday. —Photo: By Arrangement
It was sea of humanity at Punganur on Tuesday, with the commencement of the two-day historical Suguturu Gangamma Jatara, a community festival, involving more than 200 villages in and around Punganur town and devotees from the neighbouring Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
The Jatara’s history dates back to early 18th century when the Zamindari system was at its peak in Punganur during the British Raj. Goddess Suguturu Gangamma was believed to have incarnated at this once vibrant province to drive away an evil spirit which was out to devour human beings in the form of a mysterious epidemic. Local people of all communities have been celebrating this Jatara as thanksgiving to the goddess every year since then. A feature of this festival is that the idol of goddess would be kept at her temple only for two days during the event and during the rest of the year, it will be locked up in a chamber at the erstwhile Zamindar’s palace.
As part of the festivities, over two lakh people thronged the temple of the goddess near the palace, followed by the first worship (‘tholi puja’) by the descendants of the Zamindari family. The idol was brought to the temple from the palace chambers amidst heavy fanfare and hysterical beating of drums and street performances by traditional artistes of various genres. After the initial pujas, it was bloodbath at the palace zone with sacrificing of hundreds of goats and poultry birds. The frenzy which began in the evening was scheduled to continue till the wee hours. The sheep shandy witnessed heavy sales at record rates between Rs. 25,000 and Rs. 30,000 per each animal.
The APSRTC plied special buses from Madanapalle, Palamaner and Chittoor for the event. Scores of local groups arranged poor feeding from morning. The district police made security arrangements for the event with over 400 cops, headed by a DSP, six Circle Inspectors and 20 Sub-Inspectors.
The idol was brought to the temple from the palace chambers amidst heavy fanfare and hysterical beating of drums