Tirupati Town is celebrating fifth day of Gangamma festival today.
The festival called Gangamma Jatara is observed by the residents of Tirupati with devotion. It is being followed by highly educated and people of high society too in spite of the odd nature of the customs followed in the Jatara.
As the story goes, Palegadu a chieftain in Tirupati Village, outrages the modesty of a woman and Gangamma vows to kill him. Knowing this Palegadu hides somewhere and Gangamma goes on hunting for him in the village. In her search for the criminal she covers all roads, lanes and sublanes in disguise and calls him with all names in slang language to provoke him and to make him come out of his hiding place. At last she traces him and kills him. The Jatara is based on this story.
Small ones to eldest in the town go out wearing odd things like leaves, brooms, chappals etc in these Jatara days and also men make up to disguise as ladies and go in to the streets and lanes calling whoever they look at with filthy language. They believe that it pleases the deity Gangamma Talli. The person who abuse others and the person who gets abuses also enjoy it as it is a custom during these Jatara days.
Ladies do not venture to come out as they may have to hear many abuses half of which may not be understandable to them but the way it is mouthed they can understand that it is an abuse in slang language.
Tirumal Tirupati Devastanams the management of the famous Temple Balaji on Tirumala Hill and also other temples in and around Tirupati wanted long back to stop this practice in Tirupati town as the place is a holy one with lakhs of piligrims visiting from all corners of the country. Tirupati is no more a small village now. It is developed in to a big town with big hotels, a University, Medical College and Vedic school etc. As such, TTD took help of authorities to ban Gangamma Jatara. But the belief was so strong among the natives of Tirupati, TTD had to step back. Collector’s notice was not respected. After fighting for some years finally TTD and also the authorites had to let it go.