Kurnool/Anantapur (Andhra Pradesh) [India], April 15 (ANI): Amid a surge in COVID-19 cases across the country, the Anantapur and Kurnool districts of Andhra Pradesh, which are celebrating various festivals, on Wednesday witnessed the participation of a large number devotees who did not adhere to COVID guidelines and protocols.
'War with Cow Dung Cakes' was celebrated at Kairuppala village, Aspari mandal of Kurnool district on Wednesday. However, social distancing norms were violated during the celebrations.
It is customary for villagers of Kairuppala to hold 'War with Cow Dung Cakes' every year on the day next to the Ugadi festival. People celebrate the marriage of Lord Veerabhadra and Goddess Kalika. As part of the celebration, people fight with cow dung cakes on the day next to Telugu traditional new year day and Lord Veerabhadra's palanquin is taken on a procession in the village.
The devotees split into two groups, one supporting Lord Veerabhadra (the groom) and the other supporting Goddess Kalika (the bride). People throw cow dung cakes on each other until the palanquin enters the temple premises. Kairuppala villagers claim that they are following age-old custom. But they did not bother with social distancing norms.
Speaking to ANI, Kurnool Superintendent of Police (SP) Fakeerappa Kaginelli said, "This ritual is specific to one village. We had sent a notice to the organisers to follow all COVID norms prior to the event. We will look into the reported violations and take necessary action accordingly."
Another event that saw the violation of COVID guidelines was the traditional fair held at Akkamamba temple in Kalyanadurg town of Anantapur district on Wednesday where devotees in large numbers were seen thronging the temple for 'darshan' of the Goddess.
In Bukkaraya Samudram of the same district, Ugadi celebrations were held at Goddess Musalamma temple. As a part of the celebrations here, the Goddess was taken for a boat ride. A huge number of devotees gathered at the Chikkavadiyar pond to witness the celebrations. Here too people did not follow social distancing norms.
Meanwhile, India reported its highest-ever single-day spike in COVID-19 with over 2 lakh cases on Thursday, according to the Union Health Ministry.
With 2,00,739 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, India recorded the highest single-day spike ever since the pandemic began last year.
The country's total number of cases now stands at 1,40,74,564, including 14,71,877 active cases.
India also reported 1,038 fresh COVID-related fatalities in the last 24 hours, taking the overall death toll to 1,73,123. (ANI)