One killed, hundreds injured in Madhya Pradesh ritual

September 1st, 2008 - 3:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhopal, Sep 1 (IANS) One person was killed and over 400 injured as villagers pelted stones at each other as part of an annual ritual in memory of two lovers in Chhindwara district of Madhya Pradesh, police said.Men from Pandhurna and Sawargaon villages, located on opposite banks of the river Jam in Chhindwara district, about 400 km from here, threw stones at each other during the festival known as Gotmar, which was observed Sunday.

The festival is celebrated every year on the day after the new moon in Bhadrapad month of the Hindu calendar. This year, several youths from Maharashtra also participated in the event.

Officials said the district administration had managed to contain injuries by urging the villagers to use rubber balls instead of stones. However, locals said that after initially using the balls, the villagers started pelting stones.

Chhindwara Additonal Superintendent of Police Amit Sanghvi said over 400 people had been injured in the festival and one of them, Gajanand, had died.

There are many stories about the origin of the fair but the most popular is that a youth of Pandura village was trying to elope with his lover from Savargaon when the residents of both the hamlets started throwing stones at each other, resulting in the death of the lovers. The fair is held every year in their memory.

At the end of the day, over 5,000 participants go to the temple of goddess Chandi, who the villagers believe heals their wounds. They apply sacred ash on their wounds and later visit the temple of Lord Krishna and his consort Radha.

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