Vastavam Web: The annual Banni Utsavam – 2020 at Devaragattu Mala Malleswaram Swamy Temple has been banned by the State government in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the backdrop of the ban, over 1,200 police personnel were deployed in the village in Aluru constituency, while tension prevailed in the area on Monday evening.
Despite the police restrictions, the people crossed the bushes and reached the spot where the Banni festival was held. The people of Neraniki, Neranikitanda, Kothapeta and Suluvai villages reached the fort and took part in the stick fight. The Theru Bazaar area, which was vacant till 10.30 pm on Monday, was suddenly crowded with people.
Priests in the temple performed Swami Kalyanotsavam and then the ceremonial idols were brought down from the hill and placed at the throne. Fifty people were injured in the stick fight, while two others were seriously injured and were rushed to Adoni Government Hospital.
“All rituals as part of kalyanam will be allowed only with the main organisers participating in it, but none from outside will be allowed to participate in the traditional fight with sticks in the light of ‘Kagadas’ will not be allowed,” he added. Even as police clampdown continues, people are making all preparations for making of the torches, and people from several villages in Karnataka were eagerly waiting to enter the region from the hillocks. Drone cameras and 100 CCTV cameras were installed in the region.
People from three different villages form into two groups and fight with each other with sticks fitted with metal rings to secure the ceremonial statues, as they believe development will take place in the village that secures the statues. More than one lakh devotees took part in the festival last year.