The mock fight (banni) at Devaragattu temple festival in Kurnool district, an annual event, left 107 persons injured on Wednesday night.
The injuries were reported despite deployment of over 1,000 policemen to disarm the revellers. The injured were treated at the medical centre set up by the district administration at the site of the festival.
It has been a long tradition at the Mala Malleswara Swamy temple at Devaragattu, 10 km from Aluru, in which select devotees indulge in mock fight with clubs. The event leaves several participants with bleeding injuries.The festival, which coincides with Dasara, attracts a large gathering of devotees from over 50 villages in Andhra Pradesh and from Bellary district in Karnataka. The temple is owned and managed by the residents of Neraniki village.
However, devotees from neighbouring villages who take part in the celebrations try to hijack the processional deities to their village believing that it will bring good tidings if they are able to snatch the deities.
The ‘warriors’ from Neraniki armed with sticks put up a stiff resistance to protect the deities resulting in an open clash. Those who suffer bleeding injuries get turmeric powder applied before leaving the place.
After the media began highlighting the violent tradition a few years ago, the State Human Rights Commission directed the Kurnool district administration to take all steps to prevent bloodshed during the revelry and at the same time avoid hurting the sentiments of the public.