MYSURU: Lakhs of people from Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu turned up to witness the Dodda Katti (big sword) festival of Ramalinga Chowdeshwari, which is being held after a gap of 16 years, at Kollegal town.
The festival celebrated by the Devanga community is being attended by people belonging to all communities.
More than 4,000 devotees of the presiding deity took out a procession on Monday and cutting their chests, shoulders and backs with swords to offer blood to the deity, while shouting in Telugu yesuko thali, tesuko thali (accept it, mother).
The procession with a decorated elephant, a horse carrying the deity made of gold and people beating drums and carrying swords, passed through all the 14 Devanga streets before culminating at Arunachaleshwara temple. The procession lasted six hours.
Devanga community has two sects: Katti Kumar and Duddi Kumar. While, the Katti Kumars cut themselves with swords, the Duddi Kumars visit door-to-door to collect turmeric to make it into powder and smear it on the wounds of people during the procession.
They believe that turmeric powder helps heal the wounds. There is also a belief that this practice displays the brotherhood among the Devanga community members.
Lokesh Babu, a member of the organising committee, said the nine-day festival, which started on January 22 with Devanga families offering puja seeking the blessings of the presiding deity, is followed by Kalasa Sthapana and Dadhyanna Seva in which devotees prepare curd rice and offer it to the deity.
The event will end with Anna Santarpana on February 1.
The community members give up non-vegetarian food during the festivities.
People strongly feel that the festival brings together the entire community. A good number of people of the community from across the region has turned up to participate in the festivities.
Town Municipal Councilor C M Krishnaiah said Devangas from Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and from across Karnataka have come to take part in festival that has been blessed by Dayanadapuri Swami and other seers.
Yogesh, a resident of Kollegal, said people from all communities participate in the festival.