Dozens are injured and a few are even killed during Vijayadashami every year near the Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh, when armed gangs of villagers clash at a local temple.
The annual ritual of 'rioting' is celebrated during Vijayadashami, also known as Dusshera, in the Malava Malleswara Swamy temple at Neraniki, located on the Andhra Pradesh-Karnataka border.
Wow! They fight each other whole night to either kill or be killed.Wonder how happy this Banni Utsav really is? pic.twitter.com/HGCLHzqOGR
— Newsitis (@Newsitis) October 6, 2014
Thousands of 'devotees' from over 30 villages from both states take part in this festival every year. As per the ritual, on the night of Vijayadashami, thousands of armed devotees fight each other to 'capture' the deities and bring them to their respective villages.
The 'rioting', called Banni Ustav, takes place at midnight, when the idols of the ruling deities Malamma (Goddess Parvati) and Malleshwara Swamy (Lord Shiva) are brought down the hill temple at Neraniki.
Watch Video of the Dangerous Festival
The villagers of Neraniki, who are the 'protectors', fight all night to stop the deities from being taken from them. The fight often goes on till dawn.
Earlier, the people used to fight each other with axes, machetes, spears and other dangerous weapons. However, nowadays the villagers are allowed to carry only wooden sticks, called lathis, for the fight.
Due to instances of escalating violence, the government has tried to bring in mock fights in the last few years. However, the crowd always ends up rioting, leaving many injured and a few dead.
This year, a 11-year-old boy was killed and more than 70 were injured in the fight, according to Deccan Chronicle.
A Hindustan Times report, citing the police, noted that 113 were injured in 2012, and 34 in 2013, during this religious fight.