Stone-Pelting Festival Leaves 77 Injured in India
10:03 GMT 23.08.2021 (Updated: 10:38 GMT 19.07.2022)
Every year, a large number of devotees turn up in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand to celebrate the "Bagwal" festival, in which stones are hurled at clan members as part of a ritual to please Barahi Devi, the presiding Hindu deity of a local temple.
As many as 77 people were wounded on Monday when they took part in an annual festival held at the "Devidhura Temple" in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. Throwing stones at each other is part of an old ritual performed by local Hindu devotees with great enthusiasm.
"This year the festival was held for just seven minutes", Khim Singh Lamharia, the chairperson of the Devidhura Temple Committee, told local media.
He said around 1,300 people had converged this year to witness the ritual.
According to a former temple priest, the hurling of stones has been driven by a legend.
"The Goddess Devidhura, according to the legend, had once agreed to save four feudal clans — Chamyal, Gaharwal, Olgiya, and Lamgaria from a demon on the condition that a human sacrifice would be made as an offering to her every year", said B.C. Joshi, who once served as a priest.
"One day an old woman, who was required to sacrifice her only grandson, pleaded with the goddess to spare him. The goddess agreed and asked the clans to play Bagwal (festival) by pelting at each other with stones and shed as much blood on the ground as can be considered equal to a human sacrifice", the priest added.
Since then, every year around the third week of August, the ritual is performed as part of the festival and concludes after the head priest of the temple signals it.
In 2013, the state's High Court banned the use of stones during the festival, urging people to use fruits and flowers to celebrate it. However, the orders were never followed.
According to locals, the shedding of blood is important because it protects them from disease and calamity.