India acts literally as a miraculous association for several festivals which has been religiously followed from a long period of time. One such autochthonous celebration is the Bani festival which takes place in Andhra Pradesh every year during Dussehra in Devaragattu Temple at Kurnool in the state of Karnataka. According to the mythology, it commemorates the killing of the demon by Mala Malleshwara, who is believed to be the reincarnation of Lord Shiva. The most awesome part of the festival is the lathi-hitting ceremony which is observed till the dawn from the night.
Banni festival | Vijayadasami | Stick Fight
The traditional Banni festival starts on Vijayadasami, thousands of people from the adjoining village gather together to carry the idol of Shri Malleshwar and Devi Parvathi from the top of a high hillock of about 900-foot from the ground and also perform a mock stick fight. This festival is celebrated by the villagers as a gameplay of life but their traditional religious beliefs are even stronger. They believe that if this custom is not performed then Lord Malleshwar will be angry with the village and will further destroy it. So, to satisfy and please their God of fortune they perform this gameplay of life believing that their village will be blessed with good fortune, good health, and prosperity by the lord. This is the reason why this festival is celebrated on Vijayadasami as this day is observed as the day to overcome all evil.
The Sacrifice Of Blood
On this day the poojas begin from the evening and the village men hit their heads to each other. With all that blood pouring out of their heads, they celebrate the festival by dancing with the sticks and hitting each other as they believe that they are sacrificing their evil blood to Lord Malleshwar and purifying themselves. Since Lord Mala-Malleshwar killed the demon and had victory until dawn, this celebration also continues until the next dawn with no break. They believe that Lord Shiva’s victory should be celebrated as Banni festival then Lord Malleshwar will be pleased and his blessings will be showered on them.
Banni Festival, Music, & Dance
Banni festival truly displays a different colour of Karnataka’s cultural beauty and traditions to the outside world. Followed by this other cultural event like Bharathanatyam and vocal music which is the traditional inheritance to the cultural heritage of Karnataka.
Karnataka vocal music is something that is aesthetic and helps in transforming the moods by instigating different tenuous emotions and feelings. Banni festival also reveals different shades of Bhakti movement and they capture emotions of a devotee and Mother Durga. This festival is an endeavour carried on by the body, soul, and mind in such a manner that it is a breathtakingly magnificent path between the devotee and the goddess. The historic poets like Kabir and Meera portrayed these dynamic vibrations in their poems.
The artists who perform in the Banni festival believe that music and dance play a pivotal part in creating a quintessential performance to please Lord Malleshwar and Maa Parvathi. They perform in such a way that the movements, the mudras and all displays the immense connection between the devotees and God. Thus, the Banni festival throws light to the victory over evil things symbolically represents that it’s the victory over the evil thoughts in a human being making them pure and to make them think purely and act as a good human being.
If you wish to witness with this fabulous celebration, travel to Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, during the Dussehra time. Don’t miss the Vijayadasami day.
Featured Photo by Miss Lotion