Pandhurna: Over 400 people were injured in Madhya Pradesh during an annual 'Gotmar Mela(stone-pelting)' festival on Saturday (August 31). Those injured in the festival have been admitted to the government hospital at Pandhurna. 

According to sources, the administration had deployed about 800 police personnel and a team of doctors at the spot along with drone cameras. During the festival, residents of two villages  Sawargaon and Pandhurna divided by the Jaam river, gather on opposite banks and race to snatch a flag hoisted on a dead tree fixed in the middle of the river while throwing stones at the other side.

Also read: Uttarakhand’s stone pelting festival leaves hundreds injured in just 10 minutes

Pandhurna residents grabbed the flag this time and were declared winners. According to reports, this tradition is said to have started around 300 years ago. It is believed that when a boy from Pandhurna eloped with a girl from Sawargaon, they faced a volley of stones when he was crossing the river with her. Villagers from Pandhurna came to their help, and the couple crossed over safely. In the past, there have been instances of people dying due to the injuries suffered during Gotmar.

In a similar incident, devotees turned up in large numbers at the Devidhura Temple in Champawat district on August 15 and pelted each other with stones to celebrate Bagwal, a festival in which blood is shed to please the presiding deity.

The festival is celebrated annually on Raksha Bandhan, which falls on Shravan Purnima, to please Barahi Devi, the presiding deity. Locals believe that the goddess is pleased only after blood, equivalent to a human sacrifice, is shed during the sport, which is witnessed by thousands of people.

With PTI inputs