In a decades-old bloody tradition, hundreds of people Uttarakhand’s Champawat pelted each other with stones on Rakhi to celebrate the Bagwal festival.
According to the myth, locals pelt stones on each other to please Goddess Barahi. It is believed bloodshed during the festival brings good luck.
Given the risks involved, the Champawat administration, 550 km from Dehradun, has been pressing to replace stones with fruit for the last four years, but in vain.
The head priest of Barahi temple, Kirti Ballabh Joshi, said the age-old tradition of stone pelting was celebrated on Thursday, but for a shorter duration.
“The khams (participants) also pelted fruits on each other. The entire ritual lasted for some seven minutes,” the priest said.
The participants carry big wooden shields to protect themselves from the fling stones, and try to hit others. But the violence lasts only for the duration of the ritual, said Virendra Lamgaria, the head of one of the participating groups, and everything returns to normal shortly after.
More than 200 people were rushed to a health centre for treatment.