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Ganer, a traditional procession of abuses in Himachal by Prem Thakur

     Naggar (Kullu): A number of villagers in Himachal Pradesh's Naggar Village participate in a unique procession in which the participants give choicest of expletives as part of an age-old ritual to keep any probable evil spirit at bay from the vicinity of the area. About two thousand villagers took part in this annual procession earlier this week, which went around the village following the age-old practice here. "We take out a procession hurling obscenities, to ward off the evil spirits," said Joginder Acharya, the priest. "Ganer" procession is a draw for all here. As the men take out the procession through the narrow lanes of the village, carrying a man on a pole with sheep horns adorning his head and hurling abuses at the same time, which they believe would ward off evil spirits. Women are prohibited to participate in the procession. The procession then heads to an old castle at hilltop, stated to be belonging to the erstwhile ruler of the area, where a particular member reads out the yearly report and forecasts about the year ahead. Legend has it that the ancient ruler of the region, locally known as 'Kullu Raja' once organised a dancing competition where his brother-in-law won and got lots of appreciation from his sister, the Queen. Unable to stand it, the King cut his brother-in-law's head. As a penance for his sin, the King prayed to a local deity who helped him get back his brother-in-law's life by attaching a head of the sheep to his body. The King then took out a procession carrying his brother-in-law on a pole. Since then the ritual has been carried on by the people of Naggar. By evening, about 5,000 people converge in the fields to watch a tug of war between the villagers of Naggar and followers of Jamdagini seer, symbolizing gods and demons. It is conducted to establish the supremacy of the good over evil.
-Jan 2, 2009

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