Villagers stone each other during 'Gotmar' festival
Chhindwara | Tuesday, Sep 7 2010 IST
The century-old Gotmar festival -- wherein villagers throw stones at each other from opposite banks of the Jam River at Pandhurna tahsil in Chhindwara district -- is scheduled to be celebrated on Thursday this year.
Several people get injured during the festival. So far, nine people have lost lives and several injured during 'Gotmar' since 1955. However, the tradition continues unhindered.
Legend goes that a boy of Pandhurna village fell in love with a girl from Savargaon village, a hamlet across the Jam river, but their marriage was opposed by seniors as they both belonged to the same 'gotra.' The youth eloped with his ladylove and reached his village by crossing the river. On learning of their elopement, villagers from Savargaon started pelting stones from one bank of the river. At this, villagers from Pandhurna responded by throwing stones from their side. Later, an agreement was reached between relatives and the couple got married. Since then, the festival is celebrated every year on the day after the new moon in Bhadrapad month of the Hindu calendar. Earlier, people used to throw stones with hands. Later, catapults were used by drunk men but it proved dangerous as people got seriously injured.
It its said the Madhya Pradesh Human Rights Commission (MPHRC) had made effort to ban the festival last year. Prohibitory orders under Section 144 were imposed and heavy police force deployed. However, excited crowd started pelting stones at the police with catapults and broke window glass of police vehicles.
Superintendent of Police Ashish said anti-social elements and those selling illegal liquor had been banned this year. Transportation of pebbles had also been banned a week before the festival.
-- (UNI) -- 07DR50.xml
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