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Despite COVID-19 threat, people throng traditional banni festival

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | D SIVA RAMI REDDY
Published Oct 28, 2020, 12:34 am IST
Updated Oct 28, 2020, 3:58 am IST
Injuries have come down drastically this year, says the Kurnool SP
Despite ban, Banni fight was organised at Devargatta in Holagonda mandal of Alur taluk in Kurnool district on Monday night.
 Despite ban, Banni fight was organised at Devargatta in Holagonda mandal of Alur taluk in Kurnool district on Monday night.

KURNOOL: Banni, the traditional stick fight, that leaves scores of people injured, was held at Devaragutta village despite the ban imposed upon it by the district administration.

Despite heavy police bandobast, the festival was held with least regard to Covid-19 restrictions. A total of 1,200 policemen, seven DSPs and four drones, 30 checkpoints, and 50 closed-circuit cameras were in place but to no avail. “We were successful in controlling the visitors from Karnataka and other places,” said Kurnool SP Kaginelli Fakkeerappa.
 

 

Banni, popularly known as karrala samaram organised at midnight during the Dasara festival at Sri Mala Malleswara Swamy temple at Devaragattu hills in Holagunda mandal had been cancelled for the first time in its history which dates back to a few centuries.

The district administration had taken this decision in view of the prevalence of the virus, said Holagunda mandal tahsildar Mohammad Rafi. But all events of the nine-day utsavams were organised traditionally without gathering of people, following Covid-19 guidelines, Fakkeerappa added.

 

On the other hand, though the officials had decided to cancel the event, the people demanded the karrala samaram be held with the involvement of Neraniki, Neraniki tanda and Kothapeta village, leading to a tense situation. The event did take place eventually.

Fakkeerappa said, “Injuries have come down drastically compared to 100 plus every year to 48 this year with no serious injuries or casualties.” He said no outsiders, that is from outside the district and state, participated. Only neighbouring villagers participated. However, he said the police were successful in reducing the intensity of the scale of participation in this hair-raising stick fight that leaves people bruised and bloody.

 

According to folklore, Siva took the form of Bhairava to kill two rakshasas, Mani and Mallasura. He killed the two with sticks and ensured that there was no problem for humanity. People consider that severe injuries leading to discharge of blood, during a fight with sticks, are good omens.

In accordance with the belief, the villagers of Neraniiki, Neranikitanda, Kothapeta, representing the followers of Siva, take the idols of Mala Malleswara Swamy from Devaragattu to their respective villages when villagers of Ellarti, Arikera, Maddigeri, Nitranatta, Sulavai and Hebbetam representing the followers of demons, obstruct them.

 

In this process, both groups fight ferociously with sticks. However, none of the groups file cases against the other, despite severe injuries. Though they fight hard on this day, they bear no personal grudges against each other.

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