KURNOOL: The festival season is a multi-hued affair anywhere in India, but Kurnool district has many odd ways of celebrating.
During Dasara, people square up in two groups by the hillside of Devaragutta and bash each other with sticks.
In the village of Kairuppa, people celebrate Ugadi by hurling dung cakes at one another.
In Kalluru, they take out a procession of donkeys. And in Kodumuru, on the third Monday of the month of Sravanam, offer garlands of live scorpions to the local deity.
Devaragutta lies in Holagunda mandal on the outskirts of Nerede village. On every Vijayadasami day, they celebrate an age-old myth. Apparantly Lord Siva took the form of Bhairava and clobbered two demons, Mani and Mallasura, with sticks.
In the battle between his legions and the demon hordes, hundreds lost their lives and blood flowed in streams. So at Devaragutta, people reenact that scene during Dasara.
The battle starts at the stroke of midnight.
People stream in from neghbouring villages -- Neladiki, Nerakini Thanda and Kothapet -- carrying idols of Mala Malleswara Swamy to participate in the festivities. These are Siva team.
On the demons’ side are people from Ellarthy, Arikeri, Maddigeri, Nitranatta and Sulavai villages. They try to snatch the idols from god’s team and a battle breaks out.
On an average every year, about 200 persons receive bloody injuries in the fight. But no one complains. Except this day of Dasara, all is well in these villages.
In Kairuppala village in Assari mandal, people celebrate what is called Peddanuggulata on the day after Ugadi, the Telugu new year.
They hurl cakes of cow dung at one another. The dung cakes are made a month ahead of the celebration.
This celebration too has a myth behind it. When Veerabhadra Swamy, a Lingayat, wanted to marry Kalika Devi, a woman from an SC community, there was a clash between the two communities.
To bring about peace, the village headmen sat together and arranged the marriage and all was well again. Continuing that tradition today, the village heads sit together after the dung fight and perform the marriage of Veerabhadra Swamy.
Villagers from the Lingayat, Reddy and Muslim communities represent Veerabhadra Swamy’s side while the SC, Yadav and Kuruma communities represent Kalika’s side. According to a local temple committee chairman, Madhusudhan Reddy, it’s all in good fun, no hard feelings.
In Kodumuru, on the third Monday of the month of Sravanam, people offer garlands of live scorpions to Lord Venkateswara at the local hilltop temple.
It is said that one Chowreddy, who renovated age-old local temple, had three daughters but no sons.
He took a vow at the temple that if he was blessed with a son, he would perform poojas to the presiding deity with whatever is available on the hillock. He was blessed with a son and since nothing but scorpions were found there, he used to make a garland of the creepy-crawlies and offer them even as naivedyam.
The people of Kodumuru say that except on the third Monday of Sravanam, no scorpions are found on the hillock. On the auspicious day they do not even sting when caught.
In Kalluru locality of Kurnool town, as part of Chowdeswari celebrations every Ugadi day, donkeys are taken on a procession to the temple.
The animals are made to go around the temple through mud. After the perambulation, the donkeys are given a bath, decorated and even worshiped.