RAIPUR: A traditional fair in Chhattisgarh’s Dhamtari district witnessed a bizarre ritual when over 200 married women yearning to conceive lay on the ground and a group of priests walked on their backs beseeching the blessings from a local Goddess.
The annual congregation called as ‘Madhai Mela’ (Madhai Fair) held on the first Friday after Diwali, was attended by thousands of devotees, most tribals to offer their reverence to Goddess Angaarmoti.
Ironically, the occasion where the police forces were deployed saw the outright flouting of Covid-19 norms with people roaming around without masks.
Over 200 married women yearning to conceive lay on the ground and a group of priests walked on their backs beseeching the blessings from a local Goddess during ‘Madhai Mela’ in Chhattisgarh’s Dhamtari district. pic.twitter.com/dmO9iKkLHZ— The New Indian Express (@NewIndianXpress) November 22, 2020
“The Madhai Mela is believed to be taking place for the past 500 years. We are now carrying forward the tradition. People attend the ritual with the firm belief, which shouldn’t be misinterpreted. It’s miraculous to find several married women now blessed with children after they attended the fair in the past, affirmed R N Dhruv, secretary, Aadishakti Maa Angaarmoti Trust.
The childless women nurturing a desire to be a mother were seen lying on their stomach as the tribal priests walked over their back, chanting mantras and holding flags even as the keen villagers watched the ritual.
“One can offer prayer according to their own faith but such ritualistic practice is inhuman and unscientific. It might even cause serious injuries to women lying down and the priests seen virtually trampling on them. It seems the people are still stuck in the medieval ages with their irrational and superstitious practices. Strangely, the district administration did nothing to prevent it even during the pandemic. Are these rituals meant only for the poor tribals. We will ask the administration to stop such ritual," said Dr Dinesh Mishra, a recipient of the union government’s national award for promoting scientific temper.
The district collector Jaiprakash Maurya despite repeated attempts was unavailable for his views on the administration allowing the mass gathering amid coronavirus pandemic and the alleged superstitious tradition prevailing.