Chindwara (Madhya Pradesh), Aug 22(ANI): Hundreds of people in Madhya Pradesh's Chindwara district hurled stones at each other as part of a centuries ritual to mark the annual festival known as Gotmar Mela on Saturday.
In the festival, men from Pandhurna and Sawargaon, villages, located on opposite banks of the river Jamuna, hurl stones at each other.
"As per the ritual, when people of the Pandurana village try cutting a Palash tree and sneak it away, people from the Sawargaon would pelt stones on them. This year, however, Sawargaon people put the tree in the centre of the village. They offered prayers to the Palash tree and then they prayed at the temple of the Goddess Chandi," said Nikunja Srivastava, District Magistrate of Chhindwara district.
The Madhya Pradesh Government and Human Rights Commission discourage the tradition of stone pelting citing the ritual as "inhuman and criminal".
However, the festival, which claims many lives and leaves people injured, was subdued this year as compared to previous years following the Government efforts to discourage the practice.
Despite the measures taken by the administration to keep away any untoward incident, about 48 people, including two policemen, were injured and about 65 people were arrested.
"Administration and representatives of people have been creating awareness among people that this is an inhumane ritual. They should certainly celebrate the festival with full spirit but not hurl stones at each other. This is against the rules of Human Rights Commission. And I can see positive changes taking place in people this year," Srivastava said.
"The administration banned the ritual following directives of the state Human Rights Commission and offered the participants its full support in holding any other cultural and religious event," e added. By Sachin Pandey (ANI)