Andhra Pradesh

60 injured in Banni festival in Kurnool

Villagers clashing with sticks during the Banni festival at Devaragattu in Kurnool district in the early hours of Saturday.  

Sixty people were injured, four of them critically, during the Banni festival organised as part of the Mala Mallanna Swamy Kalyanotsavam in the early hours of Saturday.

As per the tradition, people take part in stick fight during the festival. Unconfirmed reports said that the number of injured were more than 100. Some people sustained injuries on their heads, while some others in the stampede. The injured are undergoing treatment in a hospital at Adoni and the Kurnool Government General Hospital.

The month-long efforts by the district administration and the police to stop the violence that had claimed several lives in the past by limiting the number of devotees from each village to 150 did not yield the desired results.

Around 40,000 to 50,000 devotees from Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh reached the temple. After the midnight of Vijaya Dasami, more than 4,000 villagers clashed to take control of the idols. At the Devaragattu Hill on the outskirts of Neraniki village in Holagunda mandal, it is a tradition in eight to 11 villages to fight with sticks and take the idols to their village with a belief that it would bring prosperity and good agricultural yield. In response to a petition filed by the Human Rights committees, the courts imposed a ban on this ritual in 2008, but none adheres to those restrictions. The festival, however, did not take place on such a scale during the last two years in view of coronavirus pandemic.

Belief has it that Lord Siva took the form of Bhairava and killed two demons Mani and Malla using sticks. Devotees consider bloodshed during the Banni fight as a good omen. The villagers of Neraniki, Neranikitanda and Kothapeta represent the side of Lord Siva, take the idol of Mala Malleswara Swami from Devaragattu to the temple while the villagers of Ellarti, Arikara, Maddigeri, Nitranatta, Sulavai, and Hebbetam, representing the demons, obstruct them. Adoni DSP Vinod Kumar said the festival concluded with some minor injuries. No complaint has been filed, but cases would be registered against some people, he said.

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Printable version | Dec 1, 2021 8:28:28 AM |

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