The ritual was banned owing to the pandemic.

Devotees injured in the Bunny festival ritual being treated by Medical and Health professionals in the early hours of October 27, 2020 in Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh.   | Photo Credit: U. Subramanyam

The ritual was banned owing to the pandemic.

More than 40 persons were injured during a ritual attached to the Banni Utsavam on Vijaya Dasami midnight at Devaragattu village in the Adoni Mandal of Kurnool district and seven people sustained serious injuries.

Thousands of devotees converged on the Mala Malleshwara Swamy Temple premises to witness the ceremonial procession of the deities, past midnight in the light of locally prepared torches, and to take part in the age-old ritual of getting hold of the deities after a literal fight with sticks attached with metal rings.

The district police had made elaborate arrangements to keep people away from the ritual, which, every year leaves tens of people injured. Some have died in the past due to excessive bleeding before they could be given medical assistance.

Despite the ban, widely publicised in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, people took part in the festivities, unfazed by the CCTV cameras and 15 check-posts installed for keeping people away from the place of the festivities, on the border with Karnataka.

By midnight, the crowd was beyond the control of the police as devotees, in two different groups, tried to get hold of the ceremonial deities. District officials from the Medical and Health department, deployed in the villages around, treated the injured immediately.

While the number of people converging on the premises of the Devaragattu temple came down, the ritual, nor the consequent injuries could be stopped.