Hyderabad, Dec 26: It is a unique festival where people belonging to various faiths exchange ‘rotis’ or breads to fulfill their wishes.
Thousands of devotees from different states participated in the just concluded annual ‘rottela panduga’ or festival or rotis in Andhra Pradesh’s Nellore district.
The unique festival is held every year at the Bara Shaheed dargah, on the banks of Nellore Cheruvu or water tank where the bodies of the 12 war martyrs were laid to rest.
The legend is that 12 warriors sacrificed their lives in a battle with the British in 1751 near Gandavaram, about 30 km from Nellore.
The dargah acquired the name ‘Bara Shaheed dargah’ because the beheaded bodies of the warriors were buried there.
The unique feature of the three-day festival is that devotees offer rotis to the martyrs in lieu of their fulfilled desires and those with similar wants pick these up.
From education to jobs, marriage to children and cure from illness to prosperity, men and women from Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, other states and even some from abroad make every wish during the festival.
After taking a holy dip in the lake, the pilgrims buy special rotis from the stalls at the dargah and exchange the same with others with a prayer that their problems get solved.
Sowbhagya (good fortune), vidya (education), udyoga (employment), vivaha (marriage), santana (children), dhana (money) are some of the popular rotis sold at the stalls as the vendors make a fast buck by catering to the specific requirements.
The devotees believe that their wishes would be fulfilled. “We have been coming for the last three years with a wish that we have a child,” said Prakash Goud who came with his wife from Gulbarga district of Karnataka.
The names of the rotis have also changed with the times. For instance, there is also a visa roti for those who make wish for job visas to the US or any other country.
The political developments in the state too had their impact on rotis. For the second successive year, devotees exchanged ‘samakhiya Andhra’ rotis, praying for a united Andhra Pradesh.
According to dargah management committee, there was a large number of people who prayed for the state to remain united in view of the ongoing agitation for separate statehood to Telangana region.
About 200,000 devotees participated in the festival, which concluded last week. –(IANS)