Seventy people suffered injuries during the Banni festival at Devaragattu organized as part of the Mala Mallanna Swamy Kalyanotsavam in the early hours of Thursday.
Thousands of devotees braved heavy rain to converge at the Devaragattu on Wednesday morning on the occasion of Vijaya Dasami. After midnight, over 6,000 villagers took part in a stick fight — a traditional ritual held between groups of villagers with the winning group taking hold of the idols and taking them in a procession to their respective village. It is believed that the village which prevails in this fight will enjoy a good agricultural yield that year.
While a ban was imposed by the court on this ritual in 2008, the ritual has continued to be held over the years.
More than 13,000 Kurnool police personnel under the leadership of Superintendent of Police Siddharth Kaushal kept a strict watch with numerous CCTV cameras and a control room set up in the village so that the situation does not go out of control. Awareness drives too were held in the villages and the devotees were sensitized on the need to respect human rights and the welfare of all devotees by scaling down the violence and participating in the ritual as a token gesture, but few paid heed, it is learned.
The injured persons were treated at Aluru and Adoni government hospitals.
Youth dies of heart attack
A 17-year-old youth suffered a heart attack while going in a procession to the temple. He was immediately taken by devotees to hospital where he was declared dead. The youth was identified as Ravindra Reddy, a resident of Madasuguru village in Karnataka.