Thousands of people flouted physical distancing norms and gathered without masks to hurl cow dung at one another as part of a temple ritual in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh. Videos of the incident that surfaced shows locals perched on rooftops, packed closely together and hurling cow dung on Thursday, just a day after the state had reported 4,157 new COVID-19 cases.
Kurnool district where the said incident took place had reported 386 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday. The Kurnool police said that they have sent a notice to temple authorities after video footage of the ritual, also referred to locally as âpidakala samaramâ, went viral on social media. The video footage was recorded at Khairuppala village of Aspari mandal, as part of celebrations for Sri Kalika Veerabhadreswara Swamy Devastanam Bramhostavams.
#WATCH Social distancing norms violated at 'Pidakal war', during which cow dung cakes are hurled by two sides at each other on the next day of Ugadi, in Kairuppala village, Kurnool district yesterday#AndhraPradesh pic.twitter.com/4GGHpyyXn3â ANI (@ANI) April 15, 2021
The celebrations are part of Ugadi and are held annually, where villagers hurl cow dung cakes and take out a procession of donkeys. The ritual is part of a local belief that when two local deities, Veerabhadra Swamy and Kalika Devi, wished to marry, there were clashes as both these deities belonged to different castes and communities. The belief is that the then village headmen sat together and resolved the conflict by arranging a marriage between the two.
As part of the ritual, the villagers divide themselves into two groups holding cow dung cakes in one hand and towels in the other. The cow dung cakes are prepared a month before celebrations for the ritual, which begins once the procession of idols is complete. The ritual lasts for half an hour and often minor injuries are reported among those taking part. The Hindu reported that as many as 50 people suffered minor injuries as a result of the event.
The permit for the ritual was granted by the Sub-divisional Police officer of Adoni district and the rituals were being held from April 11 to 14. After videos of the incident emerged, Kurnool Superintendent of Police Fakeerappa Kaginelli in a statement to the media said that the ritual was specific to just one village.
âWe sent a notice to the organisers to follow all COVID-19 norms, prior to the event. We will look into the reported violations and take necessary action accordingly,â the officer said.