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Mock-human sacrifice lures thousands to Himachal Pradesh
Devthi | December 10, 2006 10:06:22 PM IST
 
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Thousands of people flocked to Devthi village near Shimla to attend the 'Bhunda Narmegh festival'.

Amidst traditional dance and processions and other rituals, participants from neighbouring 30 villages whipped up massive interest in this traditional Fair.

The wait for the 'Narmegh Yagna' which literally means 'Human sacrifice' ended on Sunday,

The two-centuries-old ritual includes the symbolic sacrifice of a man sliding down from the top of the hill on a rope to another hill. This is performed on the last day of the three-day ritual.

Kunwar Singh, the man who performed the daring act on Sunday, showed no signs of any panic as he slid down a 100m long rope.

"No, no fear at all. The Goddess in whose honour I will perform this daring feat will protect me throughout, I am sure," said Singh prior to venturing down the rope.

During the late 19th century, the British colonial rulers banned human sacrifice, which is believed to have been in practise during this festival. Earlier, the devotees used to cut the rope as the person slid down and thus effect the 'sacrificial death'.

Consequent to the ban imposed on such inhuman rituals, sliding down the rope became a regular feature sans the cutting of rope. However, other festivities continue and the sacrifice is now a mock ritual.

Kunwar Singh's brother Gulat Ram was more proud than worried.

"This is a very old festival and going down the rope across the valley as a part of the mock human sacrifice ritual is a task that has been assigned to my family for generations. My father had gone down the rope four times in the past. Now my brother did it. This is best done only when my family does it," said Ram.

Devthi village, which witnessed a gathering of over 10,000 persons on the first two days of the festival, experienced five-fold increase on the final day.

The festival marks the spiritual meeting of 14 local deities brought from different villages. The deities are brought to the famous Kaleshwar Cheenja Temple in Barah Bees Valley, which comprises of 30 villages.

As the participants travel from far and wide, the host village turns every household into a free eatery for the visitors.

Before the mock sacrifice, prayers are offered to the local deities. Folk dancers equipped with swords, guns and sticks stage vintage dances and other performances at the Fair. (ANI)

 

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