Though Kurnool SP told TNM that 21 people had officially been admitted to hospitals in Alur and Adoni, locals say around 100 people were injured in the annual tradition.

Thousands gather to be part of Banni festival in KurnoolScreenshot from video
news Tradition Saturday, October 16, 2021 - 18:33

Several people were injured on Friday midnight after thousands had gathered on the streets of Devaragattu as part of a traditional stick fight in Andhra Pradesh’s Kurnool district. The festival, popularly known as Banni festival, sees people travelling from neighbouring states of Telangana and Karnataka to participate and witness the annual tradition. Speaking to TNM, Kurnool SP, Sudheer Kumar Reddy said, “Officially 21 people were admitted to local hospitals for treatment. Others may have come and got their injuries dressed and left.” When asked about unconfirmed reports that around 100 people had been injured in the festival, the SP said, “Every year the numbers are exaggerated. Officially the number of those admitted stands at 21. The procession started around 1 am and went on till 6 am.”

In between the procession, while addressing the media, Vinod Kumar, Adoni DSP said, “Some people have been injured, they are being treated in hospitals. Largely, the festival has been peaceful so far.” However, dozens more were reportedly injured during the procession. Many wondered how permission was given for such a massive gathering amidst the pandemic.

Every year, dozens of people end up getting injured in this dangerous traditional festival. The annual tradition is organised on Vijayadashami and participants wielding sticks and clubs clash with each other in a fierce battle as part of the procession of Malla Malleshwara Swamy.

The belief is that Lord Shiva took the form of Bhairava and killed two demons Mani and Mallasura by thrashing them with sticks. The traditional festival is an enactment of the same scene. The men from certain villages start walking carrying idols of Malla Malleshwara Swamy. The people from some other villages are deemed to be from the demon’s side. They try to snatch the idol and a fight breaks out. Many people were rushed to local hospitals in Kurnool’s Adoni and Alur. Most men suffered head injuries and some also suffered burns.

Most people who gather for the festival are from the 11 villages around Devaragattu village. During the procession, villagers from Neradiki, Neradiki Thanda and Kothapet clashed with devotees from Ellarthy, Arikeri, Maddigeri, Nitranatta and Sulavai villages. Last year, the festival was a low-key affair due to the restrictions in place on account of the pandemic.

READ: Water dispute: Andhra Pradesh to hand over irrigation projects to Krishna Board

Become a TNM Member for just Rs 999!
You can also support us with a one-time payment.