It was a sea of humanity at the Tirupati Gangamamba Jatara at Kuppam, the tri-State junction flanked by Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, on Tuesday.
The town witnessed a continuous flow of devotees since early hours to take part in the procession of the Goddess Shakti, whose head is carried through the streets.
The procession commenced at the local temple around 7 a.m., which was followed by the sacrifice of thousands of sheep. The roads were all painted red with the blood of the sacrificed animals. The outstation devotees pitched tents on the outskirts and resorted to revelry, consuming liquor and cooking the meat.
The police seem to be finding it difficult to control the spectacle of animal sacrifice owing to local sentiments.
The procession, where people are seen becoming hysterical, will pass through all the streets, and end at the temple on Wednesday at noon, taking over 30 hours for completion. The head will be adorned on the headless deity on Wednesday night. Only once a year, for about 10 hours, the deity is worshipped as Goddess Muthu Mariyamman, with the head installed on the torso in the temple. After giving “viswaroopa darshan”, the head will be removed and immersed in the village tank nearby in the small hours of Thursday.
The history of Kuppam’s Ganga jatara dates back to the early 18th Century. Local legend has it that Lord Venkateswara was upset with his sister Gangamma eating corpses at the burial ground. To prevent the loathsome habit of his sister, he chopped off a cheek of her, which fell in the surrounding areas, including Tirupati, Chittoor, Punganur, Kuppam, Vaniyambadi, and Gudiyattam. To mark this event, the annual jatara is celebrated in Kuppam.
Thousands of families in Kuppam maintain the tradition of inviting their friends and relatives from the neighbouring States for the festival. In 2020 and 2021, the event could not take place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Several years ago, a stone structure was located at the local burial ground and it was considered the idol of Goddess Shakti. A few decades ago, it was translocated to the heart of the town, where a temple now exists.
Meanwhile, Superintendent of Police Y. Rishant Reddy inspected the bandobast arrangements in the town. Over 500 police personnel were deployed for security during the mass celebrations.