The Sammakka Saralamma shrine area in Warangal is reported to have been built during the 12th century. The temple has no mythological background relating to the construction of the temple; instead, it is believed to be built in the memory of two tribal women.
The main deity(s) of the Sammakka Saralamma temple are two brave women who stood up for their community and its betterment. They became Martyrs in the battle. According to the legend, once a troop from the Koya tribal community was returning from a trip, when they saw a little girl playing with the tigress. The head of the troop saw the girl and inspired by her bravery, he adopted her and named her as Samakka. Later she married a headman of a neighboring tribal group and had a daughter, Sarakka. Both the mother and daughter protested the Kakatiya kings who forced the tribes to pay taxes. Both the women fought bravely and reportedly lost their lives. The Koya community constructed this temple as a token of gratitude. Annually an event called Sammakka Saralamma jatara is held which is considered as one of the largest tribal festivals of the world.
The deities are brought from the forest to a spot for a period of 10-12 days when more than one crore devotees offer prayers and gift ‘bangaram’, which is pure jaggery to the deities. The entire place reverberates with divine chants and elaborate arrangements are made for this Jathara with thousands of buses arriving with pilgrims.
Historical significance of Dandakaranya
This is also believed to be the place where Lord Sri Rama, his consort Sita and brother Lakshmana made it as their abode for a brief period as part of their 14-year exile in the forest.
People believe that Goddesses Sammakka and Sarakka would fulfill their desires with their miraculous powers. Childless Couples visit the abode of goddesses with prayers to bless them with children whereas young girls pray for getting married. Pilgrims bathe in the nearby Jampanna stream to seek purification and absolve from sins.
Maghasudha pournami, the special occasion!
The actual festival begins during the month of Magha, on Sudha Pournami i.e. full moon day in the evening when Sarakka is traditionally brought from Kanneboyinapalle village in the forest, and then placed on an earthen platform which is raised under a tree.
By the sunset of next day, the main goddess Sammakka is then brought from Chilukalagutta. There are two platforms, one for goddess Sammakka and other is for goddess Sarakka. They are in the form of bamboo sticks, which is smeared with vermilion and turmeric. Since times immemorial, there is a huge tree, which stands on Sammakka gadde.
When the priests get the ochre box and other important relics from a hidden forest location, there is a great tumult accompanied frenzied beating of drums, trumpet blowing and yells. It is said believed that during the festival a huge tiger moves around peacefully. The coconuts and jiggery offering becomes piled at the foot of the old trees.