| 22 May 2024, Wednesday |

India’s cow dung fight marks end of Diwali festivities

This weekend, happy crowds pelted each other with fistfuls of cow manure as part of a local ritual to mark the end of Diwali, India’s most important Hindu festival.

Rather than the eccentric tomato-hurling celebration of “La Tomatina” in Spain, residents of Gumatapura fling snowball-sized wads of a more earthy variety.

The Gorehabba festival begins in the afternoon with the collection of “ammunition” from cow-owning homes in the village, which is located on the border between the southern states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

Tractor trolleys transport the manure to the local temple, where a priest performs a blessing ritual.

The dung is then dumped in an open area, where men and boys wade in to prepare their weapons for the battle ahead.

People flock to Gumatapura from all over the world every year, and for those who attend, the messy battle is as much about fun as it is about the ostensible health benefits.

“If they have a disease, it will be cured,” said Mahesh, a farmer at the festival on Saturday.

Cows and everything they produce, according to some Hindus, are sacred and purifying.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a Hindu nationalist, has advocated for greater animal protection, and many Indian states have long prohibited animal slaughter for meat.

Members of Modi’s party have advocated for the use of cow urine to prevent and treat COVID-19 and other illnesses.

His administration is also attempting to promote the production of toothpaste, shampoos, and mosquito repellents from bovine waste.

  • AFP