Folk sagas of heroic women from our past ….

Like in Hampi, every stone there will narrate a story about it,  likewise I encountered a peculiar strange folk story of a bastion constructed by sacrificing a pregnant woman(Human sacrifice) for the built-up fort in Pavagada.

Likewise, there are similar folk stories related to two other pregnant women who were sacrificed at different stages during the construction of this fort.

Such stories find mention in historical records.The book A Forgotten Empire by Robert Sewell,has references to human sacrifice in the Vijayanagar empire. Portuguese traveller Nuniz noted in his account when he travelled across the Vijayanagar kingdom during mid 14th-15th CenturyAD.

There are divine connections to sacrifice too.The local song of the older generation passed many years still it’s alive  narrates about the sacrifice of a pregnant women was mostly voluntary in ancient time society.

Here goes the narration of the tale that happened in Pavagada ……

During the construction of the fort,  the Palegar ( A local chieftain ) sought the help from common people to construct the outer round of the fort, as per his wish,  the people agreed to join hands to build the fort. Initially, they built the main gate ( Hebbagilu in Kannada )  on the east side, but the gate fell due to imbalance and was again re-built, it fell again and again, this matter worried the chieftain.The same matter was discussed with the astrologers and elders of the town.

They concluded, that sacrificing of a pregnant woman, would stabilize the fort gate.

Accordingly, the chieftain ordered his minister Subbaraya to search for a pregnant woman to sacrifice, the minister began to worry about the assigned errand and on the search of a willing pregnant woman.

The brahmin minister Subbaraya had a daughter named Saraswathi who had got married in Penugonde. She was pregnant and had come for the first delivery to her home town at that time.

After noticing her father’s anguish, she came to know about the errand of the Chieftain to trace for a pregnant woman for immolation to ensure the fort stability  & his feeble chances to trace a willing one to get sacrificed to fulfill his duty.

Then, Saraswathi began to think about it & fear haunted her throughout the night.

She being pregnant made up her mind that, she must assist her father in this moment of crisis. For the well-being of her native and people, it is apt to sacrifice herself and this befitting act would enhance the pride of her father.

On the following night, Saraswathi went to the east gate & sacrificed her life by killing herself. The next morning, the people reported this shocking incident to the minister ( Subbaraya ) who was grief-stricken about this news.

The chieftain came and consoled his minister about this shattering tragedy.

On the same day, the main gate was erected which stood firmly forever.

Penugonde Main Gate entrance

In the memory of the minister’s daughter Saraswathi sacrifice, the Palegar ordered to get carved a statue of Saraswathi in the entrance gate, which you can see even today in Penugonde Hebbagilu ( Main gate ). For a while, it was worshipped and gradually the reverence has faded over many centuries.

A second folk story is of Koracha Muthyalamma bastion on the right side of the Penugonde main gate, the chieftain decided to construct a Bastion in the outer round of the town for the safety of the fort,  the work began on the construction of a massive bastion, but the bastion fell often.

This situation was discussed with the elders of the town & astrologers and the same stand of sacrificing a pregnant woman was decided.

The Palegar understood that the daughter-in-law of a  leader of the Koracha community,   accepted and the leader got her readied for the ritual and sent on the next day.

She was sacrificed with all rituals and the bastion stood firmly after sacrificing. To honor her the people proclaimed this bastion as “Muthyalamma Buruju” (Buruju means Bastion in Kannada language)

The third fold story is about the sacrificing of Kotamma, one more bastion in the second round of fort was decided to be built for safety purposes and the chieftain ordered the Bhovi community, who took the responsibility for the bastion construction.

Alike the happened incidents, this bastion also fell often and often. The same was communicated to the chieftain.

On the same night, the chieftain dreamt of goddesses Mari Devi ordering him to construct a room in the bastion (Buruju) and allow a pregnant woman to stay in it along with her requirements.

The next day while searching for a pregnant woman, the wife of the person who took the responsibility of bastion construction (Kotamma)  was found to be pregnant.

They constructed a room in the bastion and got sacrificed Kotamma in the bastion alive, immediately they constructed the bastion & it stood firm.

After few days the people heard a child’s cry from the bastion where Kotamma was sacrificed, they believed it as the voice of Kotamma’s child  & that she was still alive & began to worship the bastion.

A few of them claim that there was a light from the bastion and saw many miracles. Fervently, the people called this bastion as Kotamma Buruju.

The chieftain ordered the chariot of Shri Venugopala Swamy should move up to Kotamma Buruju on every car festival day

Kotamma was honored with green saree, Green bangles, and madilakki. This practice is continuing for many generations during the Dasara festival day.

For the sake of fort’s stability, these women have been elevated to a divine level.  There are many similar beliefs related to the kind of sacrifice for their land, people, and so on

Whether it is a belief or the might of the rulers, making the common people as victims, But such continuous practices by common people, lead to a strong evidence for these stories and happenings in the past.

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