Adilabad, April 25, 2019: For the first time in centuries, Adivasis of the sleepy Saleguda village in Indervelli mandal of Adilabad district did not feast in the open as part of ‘gav saat’ puja, which is meant to appease seven mother goddesses for safeguarding them from summer-related diseases.
The death of the lone chittha marra or tamarind tree has deprived them of the essential shade under which they perform the puja and they were forced to return to their respective homes and partake the food cooked in the open.
“The tree died after being hit by a thunderbolt a few days ago,” said Arka Khammu, a villager.
“It is only now that we are realising its importance,” he lamented as he dwelt upon the change induced by the dead tree in a centuries-old custom of cooking and feasting outside the village as part of the gav saat puja.
Hit by heat
Forced to cook in the open under severe mid-day heat, the Adivasis woke up to the fact that there was not even a single tree big enough to accommodate the villagers to perform the gav saat puja. “All the trees which were there until a few years ago are gone,” rued Kova Bheem Rao as he took in a view of the expansive barren landscape around.
The elders recalled their childhood days when they used to play under the tamarind tree while their parents cooked food there. “Women used to cook in two circular rows, while men sat around and gossiped,” remembered Naitham Maru of the waning trend in the tribal heartland.
Prayers for protection
The gav saat is the special prayers performed in Adivasi habitations in Chaitra month corresponding with April to appease seven mother goddesses so that they keep the village safe from diseases and safeguard them from the oppressive heat. It is essential for the families to cook and eat outside the village, which they did under large shady trees.