A Good Luck Kick Is All These Andhra Devotees Wish For

In a bizarre tradition in Andhra's Kurnool district, devotees lined up outside a temple in Pedda Hulthi village to get kicked by a ‘baba’.

Locals in and around the village in Pattikonda Mandal believe that getting kicked by 'Thannula Swamy' ensures prosperity and grants them all their wishes.

According to reports, the devotees offer their prayers to the local deity, before the chief priest carries a 'vigraharam' on his head and begins kicking people.

Locals say that the tradition is a long-standing one, that has been passed on for generations.

Many say that all their wishes were granted after they were kicked by the 'swamy'.

This is not the only unique tradition in the state.

Every year, hundreds of Muslims men, women and children offer prayers at a temple in Kadapa town on the eve of the Telugu New Year, Ugadi.

Located 120 km from Tirupati, the temple’s presiding deity is Lord Venkateswara, whom the Muslims treat as their son-in-law.

They believe that Lord Balaji married a Muslim woman named Bibi Nancharamma, who was the daughter of a general named Malik Kafur in 1311 AD.

A day after Ugadi, Andhra’s Kairuppala village in Kurnool district organises its 'Pidakala Samaram', which is a massive event, where two sides throw cow dung at each other.

The symbolic war occurs over a mythological marriage dispute.

There are two sides to the battle, with one group of fighters (of castes such as Golla and Kammara) throwing cow dung in the name of Goddess Bhadrakali and the others (the rest) doing so in the name of Lord Veerabhadraswamy.

Finally, they all celebrate the wedding of Goddess Bhadrakali with Lord Veerabhadraswamy.

Devotees also believe that the practice brings health, prosperity and rains to the villages. It is believed any injuries or aches and pains suffered during the fight would be gone in three days by applying 'Tilak' of Lord Veerabhadraswamy on their forehead.

But some traditions can be more dangerous.

The ‘banni’ ritual held at the Mala Malleswara Swamy temple festival in Devaragattu, Kurnool district, involves a traditional fight between people of several villages.

A number of people from around 50 villages in Andhra Pradesh and the Karnataka border participate in the temple festival.

Select devotees, however, engage in a stick fight, and try to take possession of the deities used, believing that it would bring prosperity to their village if they managed to win any of the idols.

Every year, several are injured and some deaths are reported.

The local police have made an effort to change the format of the ritual.

(This piece has been published in an arrangement with The News Minute)

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