Recently some changes are introduced by organisers to celebrate the occasion. Stone pelting is replaced by flowers and fruits like apples and pears.
Every year during the festive preparations of Rakshabandhan, the Champawat district of Uttarakhand is filled with the colours of love and joy because of Bagwal Mela which is organized in the month of Sravan. Devidhura temple of Goddess Barahi is situated in Devidhura village which is located at 75 km distance from Champawat. The term ‘Bagwal’ means ‘fight with stones’ hints about the event of the fair.
As per the folklore, there was the tradition of sacrificing a man (Narbali) every year to goddess Barahi by the people of Kham. Kham is a group of four clans: Garhwal, Chamyal, Langaria and Balig.
As per the tradition of sacrificing, the turn came to an old woman who had only a grandson which she reluctantly accepted to sacrifice for the appeasement of goddess Barahi. But goddess Barahi gave her the option to grant life to her grandson if she was able to offer the same amount of blood as of an average man. Since then, people of Kham celebrate this sacrificial ceremony in a usual manner to offering blood to goddess Barahi by pelting stones on each other. There are four Kham who has their own group to participate in this ceremony where every group protect themselves by farra (a wooden shield).
First, the head of the Kham worship the goddess along with the priest and then Prasad is distributed among people and four people are prepared for the fight. As these selected people enter the temple complex, some people started to sing songs and beat drums. And then two groups are formed who throw small pebbles at each other until priest ask them to stop. This ceremony last only for 20 minutes.
Since last year, some changes are made in this tradition of stone pelting as stones are replaced by fruits such as apples and pears and with flowers.
The Bagwal fair attracts over two lakh visitors from Nepal, Kumaon and other places. According to the Organizer of Bagwal fair, Barahi Temple Committee a large number of visitors from both India and abroad, from different fields like travelers, journalists, writers and devotees come to witness this fair and in such situation there is no proper accommodation facilities are availed by the government. In such situation, the locals try their best possible to provide accommodation to visitors, but it is impossible to accommodate more than thousand people.
The organizers requested state tourism ministry and other senior officials to look into the matter, but none steps are taken by the government. He also added that if government is promoting Uttarakhand is the ‘Land of Gods’ as ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ (Guest is God) then they need to take some crucial steps also, not to turn its back on such matters.