« The annual Devidhura Bagwal Mela stone-pelting festival, held in front of the Warahi Devi temple in Champawat district, left dozens injured, despite ongoing efforts to change the rules of the traditional battle.
Footage filmed on Thursday features thousands of worshippers in traditional costumes celebrating and throwing objects at each other, as well as injured participants being rushed to a local hospital.
In 2013, following a court order, participants did begin to use fruit and flowers and authorities urged them to continue, although many still had the more traditional rocks.
The tradition, which dates back to at least the sixth century, originally involved human sacrifice but evolved into a stone war over time.
It is rooted in Hindu mythology. Originally, the village belonged to the goddess Barahi Devi. When demons began to tempt the inhabitants, the local clans known as ‘Kham’ asked her to save them – and she agreed but demanded human sacrifices in return.
Consequently, once a year, the clans engage in the stone battle until blood is spilt. »