100 devotees injured in 'stick-fighting' as part of annual 'Banni festival' in Andhra Pradesh

Two groups, representing Siva and demons, believe that the injuries they suffer in the clash are a good omen. 

Published: 09th October 2019 03:41 PM  |   Last Updated: 09th October 2019 03:42 PM   |  A+A-

Devotees were fighting with sticks part of the traditional Banni festival at Devaragattu hill nearby Malamalleswara swami temple in Holagunda mandal of Kurnool district on Tuesday midnight.

Devotees were fighting with sticks part of the traditional Banni festival at Devaragattu hill nearby Malamalleswara swami temple in Holagunda mandal of Kurnool district on Tuesday midnight. (Photo | Special Arrangement)

By Express News Service

VIJAYAWADA: At least 100 devotees suffered injuries in the annual Banni festival, also known as Karrala Samaram (stick fight), that takes place in the Devaragattu hills on the outskirts of Neradiki village in Holagunda Mandal in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh on Tuesday night.

About three lakh people from various parts of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, thronged the hill to watch the fete that is held on the night of Dasara festival.

As part of the festival, close to 4,000 revellers clashed with each other with sticks that resulted in a stampede and clash, police said. 

Those who suffered critical injuries have been admitted to Adoni government hospital. The remaining were provided first aid at Alur hospital.

According to folklore, Lord Siva took the form of Bhairava and killed two demons -- Mani and Mallasura -- by fighting with sticks.

In accordance with the belief, the residents of Neradiki, Neranikitanda, Kothapeta representing the followers of the Lord, take the idols of Mala Malleswara Swami from Devaragattu to their respective villages on the night of Dasara when those who stay in Ellarti, Arikera, Maddigeri, Nitranatta, Sulavai and Hebbetam villages and are followers of the demons, obstruct them.

Both groups fight ferociously with sticks and this has been practised as a tradition.

People consider the bloody injuries as a good omen.

Kurnool district police had deployed more than 1,000 police personnel for the peaceful conduct of the festival.

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