Ujjain/Jhabua: People driven by deep faith can go great extents. Sample this: Two villages in Madhya Pradesh had people lying on the ground with hundreds of cows running over them as part of Diwali rituals.
In a video shot during the event, these villagers, who mostly work as herdsmen tending to the cows, can be seen lying head down on the ground with the cows running over them in full speed and tearing of their clothes in the process.
Village Bhidawad in Badnagar tehsil of Ujjain and its nearby hamlets witnessed this unique and bizarre practice on the next day of Diwali on Friday. Villagers believe this would bring luck and fulfil their wishes.
When asked if the ritual ends up injuring the participants in the process, locals claim that no one was hurt and that the tradition only brings good luck and prosperity.
Not just that, in case anyone sustains minor injuries, they are treated with cow urine and dung, which they say has medicinal qualities to heal these injuries.
Locals paint their livestock in bright colours and embellish them with bells for this ritual known as ‘Gaay Gauhri’. The villagers then drape garlands around their necks and lie on the ground to allow cows to run over them.
These men and women also dance to drum beats and other musical instruments for the event.
The herdsmen say it all started with a man praying for a son and when his wish came true, the villagers started observing this as an annual affair.
A Gau Gauhri festival was also observed at the Gowardhan temple in Jhabua district, where, apart from the “trampling” ritual, the villagers also felicitated the herdsmen. Locals claim that this tradition exhibit the special bond that the herdsmen have with the cows.
The villagers said that the tradition is meant to seek blessings and the practice has been on since the era of the royals.
The festival also allows the herdsmen to seek forgiveness from the sacred animals for herding them around the entire year.
Moreover, a Gowardhan statue made of cow-dung is prepared and the rituals are considered incomplete unless the cows step on this statue.
As is in Ujjain, the high-risk tradition is considered equally harmless in Jhabua, as the locals claim these cows do not hurt the herdsmen while running over them.