Gangamma is one of the native mother goddesses, 101 sisters. The Gangamma deity is the stone under the neem tree to the east of the village. A temporary pandal of neem poles is erected on the day of the festival and neem leaves are stuck in all around it.
In this festival various veshaalu (paints and disguises) are worn. Some elder boys like to dress as women. They wear their mother’s blouses and sarees. They tie their hair into a ponytail, or fix false hair. Some others blacken their faces and wear masks. Sometimes they smear alternating layers of ash and muggu pindi (the white rock powder) on their body, giving a zebra effect. One boy who was a tailor made himself a colourful skirt of scraps which was stunning. It is source of great merriment as they go from home to home, thus dressed. As it is a small community, and the children are their own children, the fun is more. People may give them some money when they come home. Sasi, then four years old, came with his face painted green and asked me for money.
There are some grinding stones under trees, and dug into some hard granite in the pathway. These are in common areas for everyone. The damp pounded rice is processed immediately as otherwise it will sour. Jaggery paakam (solution of jaggery boiled till it thickens) is made and poured into this rice powder, while continuously stirring, and then the mixture is rounded into balls. Those who have cardamom and groundnuts add them. Jaggery would be available as the sugarcane would have just got harvested, and the small jaggery making units would be set up in fields. Many harijans would be doing tenancy farming and would be having their share of the jaggery. Those who don’t have jaggery at home, ask and take some from those who have jaggery. Families usually make enough salla pindi to store in a couple of tins, and the children have this for the next few days. They run around eating it and sharing it.
There are times when the rain has not stopped. Sometimes when it rains, people do one round of cooking of the pongal, a sweetened rice dish, at home and bring it along to just do the final cooking at the site, as if it rains it will be impossible to start a fire there in the open!
Hens and sometimes goats, are sacrificed. In some places where the function is conducted in a grand manner buffaloes are also sacrificed. The heads of the sacrificed animals are the share of the thotivaadu of the village. A non vegetarian community also has non vegetarian gods and the foods of the community are offered to the gods.