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Andhra Pradesh: Kurnool’s Holagunda mandal gets ready for Banni festival

KURNOOL: The traditional Banni festival, popular as ‘Karrala Samaram’, will be held this year in Holagunda mandal, strictly adhering to COVID-19 guidelines. However, the district administration has made it clear that the traditional stick fight as part of the festival will not be allowed as per the directive of the State Human Rights Commission.

Though the district administration had imposed restrictions on gathering of people last year, villagers gathered in good numbers defying the ban orders and took part in the fight. The traditional stick fight will be held on October 15 midnight as part of the nine-day Dasara festivities, which started on Monday.

The unique festivities will go on till October 19. “In the last two years, the festival was organised on a low key. We will organise the festival on a grand note this time,” said Beemalingappa, an elated villager of Neradiki.

The curbs have been relaxed and all my family members and friends from various parts of the district have starting coming for the festival, he said.

Over two lakh people from various parts of Telugu States as well as from neighbouring Karnataka gather at Devaragattu hillock to witness the traditional stick fight.As per the legend, Lord Shiva took the form of Bhairava and clobbered demons Mani and Mallasura to death with sticks.

On the day, people from neighbouring villages of Neradiki, Nerakini Thanda and Kothapet, carrying idols of Mala Malleswara, participate in the festivities. Villagers from Ellarthy, Arikeri, Maddigeri, Nitranatta and Sulavai try to snatch the idols from their counterparts and a battle breaks out leading to injuries to scores of people every year.

Sri Mala Malleswara Swamy temple chairman Gummanur Srinivasulu said they are making all arrangements to organise the festival on a grand note as per COVID-19 guidelines. The district administration, on the other hand, has focused on preventing the stick fight.

District Collector P Koteswara Rao, along with SP Ch Sudheer Kumar Reddy, visited Devaragattu and reviewed arrangements for the festival. About 1,000 police personnel will be deployed to thwart any untoward incident during the festival.

They include three Additional SPs, seven DSPs, 23 Circle Inspectors, 60 Sub-Inspectors, 164 ASIs and head constables, 322 police constables.