Trampling child-seeking women

Priests walk on the back of women to bless them with children, reports Tehelka Bureau

There are some bizarre rituals and most weird among these is observed during “Madhai Fair” in Chhattisgarh where priests walk over the backs of married women lying on the floor to bless them with children.

On the first Friday after Diwali, this bizarre ritual occurred in the Dhamtari district of Chhattisgarh.  Over a dozen priests and the so-called witch doctors walked on the backs of women on the pretext of blessing them with children. According to an old ritual, the Madhai fair is held on the first Friday after Diwali at the temple of Goddess Angaarmoti.

This year, 200 women from over 50 villages laid down on their stomachs as the rest of the villagers stood around watching them get trampled over. Dozens of priests and witch doctors walked on their backs to enter the temple to bless these women to have children. The woman laid down on the ground as dozens of priests and witch doctors walked on their backs, holding flags and entered the temple. The women were ready to get trampled on by several men with the want for a child.

Every year, people in Chhattisgarh’s Dhamtari practice a ritual during which priests and witch doctors walk over the backs of women to bless them with children. This year, during the ritual, the attendants were not wearing masks or practising social distancing.  Raising no objection to the practice, thousands of people from the tribes reached the temple and bore witness to the ‘Madhai fair’. 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.

Not only this, but the people attending the fair did not practice social distancing despite the Covid-19 pandemic.   In the photos and videos of the fair, people could be seen standing in proximity to each other without wearing masks.

According to R N Dhruv, secretary, Aadishakti Maa Angaarmoti Trust “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”.

Kiranmayee Nayak, chairperson of Chhattisgarh state commission for women reportedly said, “This calls for a lot of awareness and I would visit the place with my team and initiate with the help of locals to discourage the practice and make women aware about the best ways of easy conception and seeking blessing from Goddess. We will ensure that their religious sentiments shouldn’t be hurt.”