Image Credit: The Hindu

India is the land of festivals and they are grand, colourful and delightful. There are a whole lot of unique customs, stunning decorations, detailed costumes, and thousands of people coming together as a community to celebrate these out-of-the-world events. But this is not where the things end, there are bags full of unique customs in India that come attached to these events. Let’s move towards a southern part of India where villagers hurl cow dung cakes at each other in a bizarre street fight for good health.

Residents of Kairuppala village in Andhra Pradesh’s Kurnool district celebrate a festival called ‘Pidakala War’. It is hosted in late March or early April to co-occur with the Kannada new year. The annual festival is held every year in the southern town and the villagers collect dung from numerous cows around the village and then pile it near the Veerabhadra Swamy Temple for the celebration.

The festival comprises people throwing cow dung as a recreation of a mythological dispute that took place a day after the festival of Ugadi. According to local legend, Lord Veerabhadraswamy wanted to marry Goddess Bhadrakali but there was disagreement to the wedding, and it led to a huge dispute. The choice of the weapon of the people from Goddess Badhrakali's side was cow dung cakes and now the tradition continues. Some passionate participants enter the temple dancing on the drumbeats to mark the beginning of the long-running ritual. It is believed any injuries or aches and pains tolerated during the fight would be gone in three days by applying 'Tilak' of Lord Veerabhadraswamy on their forehead. At the end of the play-fight, both sides celebrate the wedding of Goddess Bhadrakali with Lord Veerabhadraswamy in the yard.

Image Credit: Story Pick

The custom, which is held every year at Veerabhadra Swamy Temple, attracts thousands of people from various parts of the state, who passionately watch the event for hours while sitting on top of the buildings. Devotees believe that the practice brings health, prosperity and rains to the villages.

Similarly, Tamil Nadu’s Gumatapuram enjoy a festival in which they scrub cow dung on each other. The festival is locally known as ‘Goraihabba’ and involves the villagers throwing and putting cow dung on each other after collecting it from all farmers. They also celebrate a practise to not tell lies. For the celebration, a man-made of mud is placed on a donkey and is taken on a parade across the region. The villagers abuse the effigy on the donkey only to send a strong message that the people should not lie under any circumstance. Local legends explain the festival was celebrated by Kannada residents of the town and was started to satisfy the wishes of the spirit of a village shepherd.

Image Credit: The Week

Cows are considered sacred in Hinduism. And strange as it may sound, cow dung is known for its anti-bacterial properties, it is said that cow dung can be used as a body pack for detoxification and to treat skin diseases. In rural India, cow dung is applied to walls and floors as a disinfectant as well as an insulator. But on the contrary, a few Indian researchers say the use of cow dung is unscientific and can get some infections or even some disease.

India is home to a diversified culture that travels from Hindu mythology to modern science. It cannot be explained to the outer world in general but acts as a magnetic force pulling in travellers from different corners of the world who seek to trench the cultural magic of India.

(Source - The Week / Daily Mail UK / The Indian Express)