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November 7, 2010

Devotees in Shimla participate in stone pelting festival

Shimla:A number of devotees in Himachal’s Shimla district participated in a unique stone-pelting festival this week. Thousands of people of the district congregated at Dhami village on Saturday to celebrate the traditional ritual of throwing stones at each other. It’s a centuries-old tradition that involves devotees hitting each other with stones to make them bleed. As per ritual, the blood is then offered to Hindu goddess Kali. Ranjeet Singh Kanwar, one of the devotees said this ritual started by a queen to ban the earlier ritual of human sacrifice here. "Earlier, there used to be a human sacrifice in this festival and that blood used to be offered to a Hindu goddess, Bhima Kali, at her temple. But a queen did not like the ritual of human sacrifice. Before performing 'Sati' (women immolating themselves on the funeral pyres of their husbands), she asked that human sacrifice should be banned. Instead, a new stone-pelting tradition was started. It was decided that devotes will keep pelting until anyone is hit and starts bleeding. The blood will be then offered to Hindu goddess Kali," said Kanwar. In this ritual, devotees from different clans participate in a procession, beating drums and playing flutes. They form teams and pelt each other with stones. "The age-old tradition is still alive by the devotees and it is still going on," said Jagdeep Singh, the village head.

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