[Himachal GK] Bhunda Festival in Himachal Pradesh

Fairs and festivals have always been a part of the life of tribes in India. One of the such festivals is Bhunda festival, which is celebrated in Nirmand region of Himachal Pradesh. Nirmand is located at a distance of around 150 km from Shimla and 17 km from Rampur. Famous by the name of Bhund Narmedh (Human Sacrifice) mahayajna, Bhunda is celebrated every after 12 years. This festival
mainly revolves around Beda tribes of Himachal Pradesh, who have a major role to play in the whole Bhunda ceremony.

Bhunda festival in Himachal Pradesh is performed believing that it will make local deity happy and He will shower prosperity and goodwill on the villagers. The main hero of the festival, a man from Beda tribe who is designated to perform the ritual, starts taking meal once in a day when only one month is left for the festival. He starts weaving the sacred rope by collecting the 'Munji'  grass, on which he is going to slide on the day of the tribal ceremony, which is generally around 500 meters in length.

On the final day of the tribal Bhunda festival all the local deities are invited to the place of event where priests and a large number of audience gather to witness the traditional Bhunda celebration. The Beda man takes bath, wears a white dress (kafan) and worship the local deity after which he is accompanied to the site of the event with drum beats. The sacred rope weaved by the Beda is tied to a high point on a hill at one side and at another side it is tied to a point across a ravine deepdown on the ground. The Beda then sits on a wooden sliding saddle tied to the rope with his hands pointing upwards and slides down the ropeway, where his wife sits like a widow. If the man is able to survive and perform the event successfully, he and his family become rich as they are bestowed with huge amount of money and jewelery from the temple fund and is carried to the temple on a palanquin where hundreds of goats are sacrificed by the villagers in the name of local deity. But if the man is not able to survive, then his family is taken care off by the villagers.

Nowadays, special precautions are taken by the local authorities during Bhunda festival like tying of sand bags on both the legs of the Beda man sliding down the rope so as to maintain the balance and putting of nets and mattresses below the rope to avoid any unusual happening.

Thousands of visitors from various parts of Himachal Pradesh and other parts of the country including tribal regions witness this three days long Bhunda festival ceremony. Though for localites it is an usual affair but for the visitors from outside, it is nothing less than an event where a human being is forced knowingly into the mouth of death.

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