Stone-Throwing Festival: Himachal's Pathron Ka Mela


In the beautiful state of Himachal Pradesh, where festivals and fairs are frequent occurrences, the Pathron Ka Mela, or Festival of Stones, is a distinctive and unusual celebration. This article takes a closer look at the intriguing customs and legends that surround this festival, which takes place in the village of Halog in the Shimla district, one day after Diwali.

Stone Pelting as a Form of Celebration

The Pathron Ka Mela is not your typical festival; instead, it involves a rather unconventional activity – stone pelting. Participants engage in a spirited stone-throwing event, where the objective is to continue until at least one person from the two opposing groups starts to bleed. The blood that flows becomes a sacred offering, used to apply a "tilak" on the forehead of Goddess Kali at a local temple.

The Location and Timing

The fair takes place in Halog village, situated 4kms from the 16-meel ka mod on the Shimla – Bilaspur road. This unique celebration occurs annually on the day following Diwali, contributing to the vibrant cultural life of the region.

Historical Legends and Customs

The Festival of Stones is steeped in historical legends and customs, providing a deeper understanding of its significance.

Narbali and the Origin

One legend traces the festival's origin to the time of Narbali, a human sacrifice offered to appease Kali Devi in the state. The queen, before committing "sati" at a crossroad, requested the initiation of a fair where people from two clans would engage in stone-throwing until someone bled. The blood would then be offered to the Goddess Kali, creating a unique tradition in the region.

Following the queen's request to cease human sacrifices, the stone fair has been celebrated for years as a stone-pelting fair. Thousands gather each year, representing different clans and throwing stones at each other on the grounds where the queen committed 'sati.' The royal family of Dhami oversees this tradition.

Tragic Love Story

Another legend connects the fair to a tragic love story. A girl from Halog, engaged to a prince, immolated herself due to enmity. The villagers from both sides then engaged in stone-throwing as a form of remembrance, and this event is now observed annually as the Festival of Stones.

The Ritual and Celebration

The stone pelting follows a customary ritual where residents of Halog and Jamog line up on either side of the circular structure, throwing stones at each other. Injuries are considered auspicious, and the one who bleeds is honored as a devotee of Goddess Kali. After this, the game is over. The injured person is then treated in the nearby hospital. This game was played to bring prosperity to the people of Dhami princely state, and even today, it is believed that the game has the power to bring prosperity to the area. 

KNOW MORE ABOUT: Fairs & Festival of H.P

Cultural Attire and Festive Spirit

The festival creates a vibrant and colorful atmosphere as people dress in new clothes and flock to the grassy slopes to witness the exhilarating stone-throwing competition. The deity of the Nara Singh temple is welcomed with great fanfare, adding to the festive spirit. 

The fair, which was once a hub for the trade of agricultural equipment, has undergone a transformation and now entices multinational corporations to showcase their modern gadgets and electronic goods. The latest technology and innovative products on display add a touch of modernity to the traditional festival, making it an exciting and unforgettable experience for all.

Controversies and Modern Perspectives

Although local authorities and human rights activists discourage it due to the cruelty of the ritual, the Pathron Ka Mela is still celebrated annually with great fervor and pomp. The clash between tradition and modernity adds an intriguing layer to this unique festival held in the heart of Himachal Pradesh.

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