Over 70 injured in traditional stick-fight in Kurnool, AP
Over 70 injured in traditional stick-fight in Kurnool, AP

AMARAVATI: More than 70 persons were  reportedly injured, during the customary stick fight that took place during Dussehra celebrations in the Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh.

Like every year, two groups clashed with sticks during the Banni Utsav festivities conducted late on Wednesday at Devaragattu village in the Holagonda "mandal" (district).

The injured persons were taken to hospitals at Adoni and Alur and the condition of some of them is stated to be critical.
Every year, a stick fight is held at the hilltop Mala Malleswara Swamy temple as part of the Dussehra celebrations. The villagers organised the struggle against police instructions, as they had in the past, which they claim to be part of their tradition. People from many villages split into two parties to fight with sticks to defend the deity idols as part of the annual festival.

Fight was delayed due to rains. this year.  The fight led to a huge traffic jam in the area. A boy died on the way to partake in the celebrations. The boy was identified as Ravindranath Reddy, hailing from Karnataka. Police said he was suspected to have died of heart attack.

Every year, customarily, people of villages around the temple divide into two groups and fight with sticks to take control of the idols.

Villagers from  Neraniki, Neraniki, Tanda and Kottapeta areas fight with devotees of Arikera, Tanda, Suluvai, Ellarthi, Kurukunda, Bilehall, Virupapuram and other villages.  They viciously assault one another with sticks, and throughout the melee, many people suffer severe injuries. However, followers view these wounds as a sign of good things to come.

Authorities' efforts to stop the villagers from planning the conflict have been ineffective. The police send out troops to break up fights every year, but the villagers disobey the orders and organise their own.

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