Stone pelting marks ritual in tiny hamlet near Shimla

People take part in the traditional 'Pathar Mela', celebrated on the next day of Diwali, at Dhami near Shimla, on Thursday. PTI

Hundreds of ‘stone pelters’ took to the streets in Shimla's Dhami village on Thursday relentlessly hurling stones at each other.

At first, it appeared like a typical unsavoury setting in the insurgency-hit Valley but it turns out to be a ritual celebrated in the village.

Violent stone pelting by unmasked, un-shielded men continued ferociously for over 30-minutes until blood dipped on the ground.

The first fall of blood marked the culmination of the ‘festival of stones’.

Several hundreds of people including foreign tourists gathered in the tiny hamlet, some 32 km from state capital Shimla.

Villagers in the area say they take pride in fierce ritual, which is observed after the festival of Diwali.

Thursday’s festival of stones is widely believed by locals to be potent enough to invite good fortune, even as this uncanny festival has mysterious unexplained ritual connotations albeit sans rationale.

Stone throwing has been a ritual in this village for over a century now.  

One of the descendants of the erstwhile Royals of the Dhami estate dressed up in a typical princely attire was present at the occasion.

It's a contest showcased between descendants of the erstwhile royals and the locals.

The one who bleeds first in the contest is considered fortunate.

His blood was smeared on the forehead of Goddess Kali as a mark of obeisance.

The legend has it that the practice of stone pelting was introduced after the tradition of “Nar Bali” (human sacrifice) that prevailed earlier but was discontinued.

Officials said that all possible precautions are ensued before the start of the event as passions run high on both side of the divide.

The legend has it that a woman from Halog village was engaged in the neighbouring princely state of Rangoili's royal family. But due to age-old bitterness, residents of Jamog village poisoned the prince just before the marriage was to be solemnised.

The distressed woman burnt herself on her fiancé's pyre, following which angry villagers on both sides fought with stones.

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Stone pelting marks ritual in tiny hamlet near Shimla

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