Unique Himachal ritual: Pelting stones to appease goddess

Saturday, November 6, 2010

SHIMLA - A day after the festival of lights, a unique stone pelting fair was organised Saturday as part of an annual ritual in the former princely state of Dhami in Himachal Pradesh.

In local parlance it is known as “pattharon ka mela” (fair of stones). During the fair, male adults gathered in a ground and pelted each other with small stones in Dhami village, some 40 km from Himachal Pradesh’s capital Shimla.

“More than 500 people gathered in the village this (Saturday) noon for the ritual. People who got injured and bled, smeared the forehead of Goddess Kali (a deity in a temple) with their blood,” fair organiser Jagdeep Singh told IANS.

The origin of the fair dates back to the 18th century when a human sacrifice was done to appease Goddess Kali. Later, this practice was stopped and the goddess was appeased by putting a “tilak” of human blood on her forehead.

Jagdeep Singh — a member of the royal family of the erstwhile princely state — said, on Saturday, stone-pelting took place between residents of Halog village, once the capital of Dhami estate, and Jamog village.

People, dressed in new attire, lined the grassy slopes. Members of the royal family of the erstwhile princely state stood on one side, facing the villagers on the other.

People pelted stones at the royal family members after the arrival of the deity of Narsingh temple, housed in Dhami’s palace, at the Kali Devi temple in the village.

The stone pelting started around noon and lasted for about 30 minutes.

As per the belief, a devotee who gets injured in stone-pelting is considered a devout of Goddess Kali, Singh added.

The one-day fair was attended by locals and tourists in good strength. Joe Mathew, a tourist from Mumbai, said: “It’s unique and amazing. In the fair, both rich and poor participate without any vengeance.”

Human rights activists have been seeking a ban on the fair saying it amounted to cruelty against humans.

Filed under: Religion

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