Agnigundam festival: Locals test limits of their fear by playing with fire

The deities of the temple are taken around in a ratham around the village. Once they are brought back, the ‘Agnigundam’ festivities begin.

By Author   |   Saurabh Chatterjee   |   Published: 23rd Jul 2017   12:00 am Updated: 22nd Jul 2017   3:51 pm
Agnigundam
Temple of Lord Shiva decorated on the occasion of Vyshakha Shudha Dashami at a village Lokirevu, Mahbubnagar. Photos: Saurabh Chatterjee

Sometimes, when I go travelling leading a group, there is a definite plan on which place to visit and how much time to spend there. Then there are also times when I travel with some close friends and photographers with no fixed plan. We just wander with a positive attitude. Luckily most of the time, we come across something very interesting. Our trip to Lokirevu was something along these lines.

So one Friday afternoon, my friend Raju decided to take us to some offbeat places around Mahbubnagar. We took a circuitous route off the highway through some villages and spend time talking to the villagers and reached Mahbubnagar at about 4 pm. While we were having tea at a shop, a man saw the cameras hanging around our necks and approached us. We came to know that he was a professional photographer in that area and we had some common friends. He told us an annual festival was held on the day of Vyshakha Shudha Dashami in a nearby village called Lokirevu and insisted we go see it.

Agnigundam

On this day, the deities of the temple are taken around in a ratham around the village. Once they are brought back, the ‘Agnigundam’ festivities begin. This year, the festival was being celebrated with lot of pomp as the village temple was renovated and going to be inaugurated.

Excited at the prospect, we quickly finished our tea and headed there. Located 20 km from Mahbubnagar, festoons were put up all around as we approached the festival enclosure. There was a huge pile of wood kept in the center of the enclosure and a decorated temple ratham stood on the side to take the gods out for a ride.
Since the main event started around 2 am, we decided to come back early in the morning as we were exhausted. After a fitful sleep, we went to the village at about 5 am where the activities were going on in full swing.

Agnigundam

The palki of the god was placed on the ground and people were offering aarthi in quick succession. Little ahead, the pile of woods we saw yesterday was lit up. According to the locals, each villager walks across the pile of woods called ‘Agnigundam’ chanting Om Namah Shivay. Interestingly, each person had a different way of doing it. Some were confident and walked slowly while some ran across with all their might. There were also those who screamed the names of gods at the top of their voice as they walked across the burning wood in fear. We watched the happenings for an hour and left the place with some amazing memories.

How to reach:

It’s best to drive to Lokirevu in Nawabpet mandal which is 21 km from Mahbubnagar. There is limited public transport. The best time to visit the village is during Vyshakha Shudha Dashami which falls in May. The procession starts late at night and continues till morning. If you plan on staying, Mahbubnagar has lot of options. Carry your own food.

Agnigundam