A unique annual festival of stoning each other in India

Hundreds of people from four tribes fight each other in India every year, injuring dozens. Photo: Audit Central

Uttarakhand: In just seven minutes, 77 people were seriously injured in an annual stone-throwing contest in India and were rushed to a hospital for medical treatment.

Every year hundreds of people from the state of Uttarakhand play a friendly stone-throwing match called Bagwal. Bagwal means ‘battle with stones’ in which four tribes of Champawat district participate. There is heavy stone-throwing from both sides and people are bleeding.

The ritual begins with a Diomalai story. According to the story, a goddess named ‘Brahi’ offers human beings that if a certain number of human beings are sacrificed, she will in return save all people from the onslaught of evil.

According to the stories, the incident took place in Devi Dhora village where people were disturbed by the onslaught of evil spirits. Unable to cope with the calls, the four tribes, Walk, Chamyal, Lamgaria and Gehrwal, begged Brahi to save their lives. The goddess agreed on the condition that one man would be sacrificed in her way every year and the four communities agreed.

This continued, but for a year there was only one young man left in the whole tribe. Her grandmother told Brahi to let her go. The goddess again stipulated that if all the tribes threw stones at each other every year and shed some blood, she would kill the young man. All the tribes agreed to this and this process is still going on.

This ritual is hundreds of years old in which all the tribes, keeping the promise of their elders, throw stones at each other and get severely injured. In 2013, government agencies offered the four tribes the use of rubber balls and fruit instead of stone. But while rejecting it, people are still throwing stones at each other.

Although the competition has not been as intense this year due to the epidemic, dozens of people have been seriously injured. The total number of participants in the competition was 300 in which 77 were seriously injured. The number of injured in 2019 was 100 and all the tribes were very happy because there was a lot of bloodshed this year.

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