People usually break coconuts, offer their hair by tonsuring their heads or sacrifice hen or cattle to express gratitude to the God for fulfilling their wish, but in a strange custom being practised at Santhekodlur, a remote village of Adoni mandal in Kurnool district, the menfolk thank the God by wearing sarees and jewellery a la women on Holi festival every year on fulfilment of their wishes.
The menfolk, irrespective of their age and community they belong to, not only dress up as women but behave as if they are women on Holi festival and the custom is being followed since two centuries, according to Kamappa Temple Committee president Sagar Saran Basappa. Rathi Manmadha, also known as Kamappa, is their favourite deity to whom they offer prayers on Holi, known as Kamuni Punnami. The moustached as well as clean-shaven men of Santhekodlur wear colourful sarees, make up, jewellery and goggles and carry “kumbhalu” (large pots) to the deity amidst drum beats in “Kumbhotsavam”. Large numbers of men dressed up as women offered prayers to the deity and horses and elephants were paraded on Sunday, the first day of the three-day festivities. On Monday morning, they brought burning coal from Santhekodlur Harijanawada and burnt wooden idols of Kamappa in a pit.
An interesting feature is a funeral-like procession called locally as “Thappula Sava Yatra”, in which each village elder is carried by four men around the burning pit. They spell out the lapses of the village elders and urge them to strive for unity and progress of the village. The idols in Kamappa temple are taken round in Rathotsavam on the third day. A cattle shandy is organised in the village and people of nearby villages and also Karnataka sell their bulls in it. Needy farmers purchase bulls with the belief that they would not fall sick and would help them get good crop yields.
Former mandal president Pampapathi, former sarpanch Karibasappa and village elders Srinivasa Reddy, Pampanna and Gurulinga oversaw the festivities. Isvi police organised bandobust.