Sri Thathaya Gunta Gangamma is Grama devatha of Tirupati town. She is the sister of Lord Venkateswara. The annual fete is celebrated with great devotion by the local residents of Tirupati. Thathayagunta is a tank bed on which the temple is now located. The practice for devotees who are visiting Tirupati is to first visit the Goddess before undertaking the trek up Tirumala hills like we do always to any other Gram Devatha while entering the town/village.
Once upon a time Tirupati and surrounding areas was ruled by “Palegondulu”. And the harassment on women was enormous. And in a village “Avilala” the Godess Gangamma was born and grown up as most beautiful women. When Palegondulu went to Goddess Gangamma with a bad intention, the Goddess with her power tried to kill him and , Palegondulu was afraid and hid in a remote place.
To get him out of the remote place Gangamma planned “Ganga Jathra” where the people in Tirupathi do vichitra veshadarana and curse Gangamma for 7 days. On the seventh day Palegondulu” comes out and will be killed by Godess Gangamma for the sake of “LokaKalyanam”.
The Gangamma Jatara is a very famous local festival and it is done every year in the month of May. People worship this Goddess with great belief, on Tuesdays and Fridays “Pongallu” is offered to the deity. And also devotees perform Nippu kunda (Holly Fire Pot on head) Pradhakshnam to fulfill their desires. Nippu kunda Pradhakshnam is done by keeping a pot on the head which has burning camphor inside the pot. They make 3 rounds around the temple chanting Goddess name.
Gangamma jatra is celebrated at Thathaya Gunta Gangamma temple in Tirupati annually during the month of May, Devotees offer Pongal and get blessed with good health and wealth. This week long festival has many peculiar rituals.
The festival will begin with giving a celestial bath (abhishekam) to the deity of Gangamma at the ‘Kodisthambam’ situated at the temple entrance. Later, ‘Saarey’, a set of vermilion, turmeric, bangles and saris, will be brought to the temple by the village elders of Avilala on the city outskirts, considered to be the birthplace of the Goddess.
During the festival period, devotees wear unusual clothes and decoration,smearing sandalwood paste all over the body, the devotees wear glittering clothes and cover their heads with jasmine garlands. On the final day most people prefer way to walk to the temple. And also take a more strenuous route by performing ‘Sashtaanga Namaskaram’ on the road throughout. They roll a coconut on the road and when it stops, start falling to the ground with stretched hands and legs offering prayers. The process continues till they reach the temple.
They enter the temple of Goddess Gangamma, after performing arati. The week long celebrations will come to a close after smashing the huge earthen idol of the goddess erected outside the temple at an auspicious time by the priest.Author: kirtana Dilipan on March 7, 2019