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Jharkhand tribals suspend themselves 90 feet above
ground to please their god

by Girija Shankar Ojha

     Barada (Jharkhand): In a bizarre ritual, tribals living in a remote village Barada in Jharkhand, pierced their bodies with iron hooks above 90 feet above the ground and hang in air suspended. The villagers perform the tough ritual, to thank God Shiva. This annual ritual is a traditional affair in which the male devouts take part with great enthusiasm and fervour. "People do it to please the deity after their wishes are fulfilled," said Lalto Das, a villager. The entire village comes alive with festivity as the tribals start preparing for the ritual in advance. The devotees have to fast for days during the ritual that ends with an animal sacrifice. When the men hang loose in air, their wives offer prayers to God Shiva to appease him. The ritual takes part during a fair, which attracts people from nearby villages as well. Rituals akin to this one take place in other parts of India , especially rural tribal belts, where superstitious beliefs make parents put their children through ceremonies that are potentially harmful. Often, these practices are carried out under extremely poor hygienic conditions and threaten the health of minors as well as the adults participating in it.
-May 17, 2009

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