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Champawat administration gears up for Devidhura fair, prevent stone-pelting ritual

Bagwal is played during annual Devidhura fair on the auspicious occasion of Raksha Bandhan, which falls on August 26 this year. The fair is held on the premises of Varahi temple in Devidura, around 75 km from the Champawat district headquarters.

dehradun Updated: Aug 23, 2018 01:40 IST
Mohan Rajput
Mohan Rajput
Hindustan Times, Champawat/ Rudrapur
Champawat,Devidhura,Bagwal
Bagwal is an ancient religious practice under which two groups of devotees used to pelt stones on each other during Devidhura fair, resulting in serious injuries. The devotees believed that the bloodshed would please the local goddess, Varahi.(HT File Photo)

The Champawat district administration and Devidhura Mela Samiti (Devidhura fair committee) is geared up to ensure that no stone-pelting takes place during Bagwal, said officials.

Bagwal is an ancient religious practice under which two groups of devotees used to pelt stones on each other during Devidhura fair, resulting in serious injuries. The devotees believed that the bloodshed would please the local goddess, Varahi.

Bagwal is played during annual Devidhura fair on the auspicious occasion of Raksha Bandhan, which falls on August 26 this year. The fair is held on the premises of Varahi temple in Devidura, around 75 km from the Champawat district headquarters.

The authorities said that people taking part in the Devidhura fair will be provided with fruits and flowers to play Bagwal. “Administration and Samiti will ensure no stone-pelting takes during Bagwal. Flowers and fruits will be provided by the fair committee to play Bagwal so that devotees could play it without any injuries. We are expecting more than 50,000 people’s gathering to offer prayer in temple and watch main event Bagwal,” said Dhirendra Gunjayal, the superintendent of police of Chamawat.

Earlier, devotees used stones and gravels to play Bagwal. But after the Uttarakhand high court’s intervention in 2013, the fair committee decided to play Bagwal with flowers and fruits to avoid injuries to the participants.

Kirti Ballabh Joshi, a priest at the temple, said, “Bagwal is an ancient religious event. There is no written document about it, but it is said that Bagwal used to be played in Katturi regime in Kumaon in sixth century. According to ancient custom, there was tradition of offering a human sacrifice once a year to goddess Varahi. Later, it was converted into Bagwal, in which devotees offered their blood by indulging in stone-pelting.”

”It is played by Chamyal, Walik, Gaharwal and Lamgariya Khaam of the seven local villages. They divide into two groups and as the chief priest give signal by blowing a conch, they start pelting stone each other. After a few minutes priest again give signal to stop. After the high court order, it is played with fruits like pears, guavas, banana and flowers,” he added.

First Published: Aug 23, 2018 01:40 IST