18th-century annual festival ‘Patharon ka Mela’ (a ritual of pelting stones) celebrated in Shimla Himachal Pradesh. Stones passed off peacefully in Dhami village. Hundreds of people gather every year at a village near Shimla to celebrate the stone festival. It’s dedicated to the Goddess Kali. They take out a procession for some time. Then they throw stones at each other.
Dhami, a small village in the vicinity of Shimla observed human sacrifice which was later banned by the queen in late 18th century. This tradition was replaced by one of the unusual customs in Himachal Pradesh where people from two villages- Halog and Jamog gather on a hillock, a day after Diwali and throw stones at each other.
Once someone gets injured, the idol of Goddess Kali is smeared with that blood and is considered a sacrifice. The tradition still continues unabated.
The ‘Mela’ Goddess Kali
The ‘Mela’, which is organised a day after Diwali to appease Goddess Kali, lasted for about half-an-hour, but was stopped after a youth from Kateru village was injured during the ritual, police said, adding any major casualty was not reported from the village.
“Over 50 youths from both the villages participated in the ritual that lasted for not more than half an hour. The blood of the wounded was applied as a ’tilak’ to the ‘devi’,”
According to the tradition, the stone pelting exercise takes place only between the residents of Halog and Jamog.
In this ritual, members of the royal family of the erstwhile princely state stood on one side, facing the villagers.
The locals, dressed in new attires, lined the grassy slopes and pelted stones at the royal family members after the arrival of the deity of Nara Singh temple, housed in Dhami’s palace, at the Kali Devi temple in the village