As India continues to battle a brute surge of coronavirus cases across states, visuals from Kurnool on Thursday caused massive outrage on social media as thousands were seen celebrating Ugadi festival in Andhra Pradesh– which also reported double the infections. People took to the streets to celebrate Ugadi (Telugu New Year), in blatant violation of Covid-19 guidelines. Incidentally, Andhra Pradesh also recorded over 5,000 Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours.
In the videos that have now gone viral on social media, nearly 4,000 people from Kurnool’s Kairuppala village threw cow dung cakes at each other whilst being divided themselves into two groups. The incident was a day after Ugadi when a religious procession of the local deity, Lord Veerabhadra Swamy was taken out. Local folklore says the cow dung throwing ritual known as ‘Pidakalam Samaram’ is carried out to bring in peace and harmony between different communities.
Amid loud festive cheers, not a single person in the crowd was seen wearing a mask, let alone follow social distancing norms. In the wake of the deadly second wave, even as the Jagan Mohan Reddy-led state government has barred mass gatherings and made it mandatory for people to wear masks, huge crowds were seen at the festivities.
The now viral videos have elicited some angry and very justified reactions on social media.
In India, shit has hit the fan. Like literally!
— Prashant Jain (@hulkafulka) April 15, 2021
La Tomatina festival desi version
— Khushi🌻 (@khushhay) April 15, 2021
— Akash (@AkashSKharvi2) April 15, 2021
Many people also drew parallels with the election rallies being held in the poll-bound states of the country and also pointed at how these rallies are to be blamed equally for rising Covid-19 cases.
We are truly a nation of health illiterates beginning from our politicians to the administrators to the masses who openly disregard all exhortation of health experts on warnings of impending disaster about to unfold,to lessons not imbibed from the current alarming situation.
— Arvinder Singh Walia (@ArvinderSinghw1) April 15, 2021
What about election rallies? Waha pe corona nahi aata he kya?
— Dharma (@Dharma0010) April 15, 2021
— Vipul Sehgal (@VipulSehgal312) April 15, 2021
#Feeling safe with 20 crore others.
— ♥💫 (@Darkshanlol) April 15, 2021
Who shud be blamed? Administration, Politician or Violators..? @AndhraPradeshCM @ArogyaAndhra Now do not come with a lame excuse of night curfew. Educate people and levy heavy fines for break in following of Covid protocol.🙏
— Hammer Point!!! (@_R_u_D_r_A_) April 15, 2021
I guess Holy sh*t ! originated from here
— Ka-19 Ka (@kala_kavva) April 15, 2021
In its defence, the Kurnool Police claimed that prior notices were issued to all the organisers to follow prescribed Covid-19 norms, but the situation went out of control as people from different places came in droves to take part in the religious festival.