Devout take traditional kick from temple priest
Deccan Chronicle.| P.V. Prasad
Priest kicks devotees at the Siddha Rameswara Swamy Utsavam (DC)
Kurnool: The Siddha Rameswara Swamy Utsavam concluded at Chinnahothuru in Aspari mandal a couple of days ago, the final day marked by a rare tradition of the main priest kicking the devotees (Tannula Panduga named locally) with his leg.
This being a century-old tradition, the devotees believe this brings them fortune. They wait for the kicks on the last day of the annual festival.
The tiny village is located about 100km from the district headquarters. The festival is held in April. This time, it began on April 3 and continued till April 8. The temple starts the festival with a Ganga Maha Abhishekam for Lord Siddha Rameswara in the morning hours and a Nandikolu in the evening hours daily.
The Maha Rathotsavam is an important festivity after which priests perform the Siva Parvathi Kalyanam on the last day. This year, the temple held the Rathotsavam on April 6 and performed Kalyanotsavam in the morning hours of April 8.
The Kalyanotsvam is followed by some traditional rituals in the evening. On the last day, devotees gather at a place. The temple priest starts kicking the devotees with his leg as per the Veera Saiva tradition. People from various parts of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Telangana wait for the kicks.
Priest Veerabhadra Swamy holding the small idols of Lord Veerabhadra and Parvathi and a Trishul in his hand kicks the devotees with his right leg.
The villagers of Chinnahothuru say, "During the celestial marriage of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi, devotees make some mistakes. This annoys Lord Veerabhadra. To ensure redemption for the devotees from their sins of the past, the temple priest kicks them. We believe this gives us peace and prosperity."
The festival draws a large number of devotees. After receiving the blessings from the priest, they offer prayers to the Lord and the Goddess, and then celebrate Vasantotsavam. This is a ritual wherein they prepare pits and fill them with turmeric-mixed water. They pour this on each other, marking the end of the festival.
Priest Veerabhadra Swamy said the temple has been following the tradition for many decades as was ordained by Lord Veerabhadra.