India is famous for the strange and unusual ceremonies that are held in most of its cities. These weird traditions include Nag Panchami, marriage with animals like dogs, Bhai Dooj, Thaipoosam, and many more. However, the weird tradition that we are going to talk about is baby throwing or baby tossing in India.
What is Baby Throwing?
Baby throwing or baby tossing is a ritual practiced in certain parts of India by both Hindus and Muslims. In this ritual, babies under the age of two are handed over to the priests, who first shake the baby and then throw them off of a 30 to 50 feet high roof of a shrine or a mosque.
The ritual is performed in the first week of December. The practice is normal in India’s Karnataka and Maharashtra states, especially at the Anathi Digambareshwara temple and Baba Umer Dargah in the Nagrala village and Sholapur. Over two hundred families come to these places so that their infants can be tossed from the roof.
What is the Historical Significance of Baby Throwing?
According to most historians, the ritual of baby throwing has been around for almost seven hundred years. The practice started when the death rate among infants was very high, and no medical advances were available to save lives.
The parents of sick or dying infants were advised by some priests that they should build a shrine and throw their babies from height. According to the belief, the Almighty would save the baby.
The parents would throw their babies from the heights with a strong belief that a hammock-like sheet would appear and grab their falling babies. The practice is quite dangerous; however, there haven’t been any accidents reported till now.
Baby Throwing in Modern Times
While the ritual of baby throwing was introduced to save ailing babies’ lives 700 years ago, this practice is still alive in modern times when advanced medical facilities are available. For the last 50+ years, the ritual has had nothing to do with ailing children anymore. Instead, the ritual is performed as a celebration in most parts of India and is considered a religious duty.
Even today, when a major part of the Indian population is educated, the practice of baby throwing is as normal as it was hundreds of years ago. Even highly educated families of Maharashtra and Karnataka perform this ritual as, according to them, it is their religious duty for the good life of their babies.
People who perform this ritual believe that baby throwing brings good luck and long, healthy life to the baby. Moreover, the other people who are present at the time when the ritual is performed believe that they will have their own baby soon. Another common belief is that the ritual brings health and prosperity to everyone who participates in it.
Children’s Rights and Baby Throwing
The ritual of baby throwing is remarked as “Barbaric” by several children’s rights groups. These groups even succeeded in putting an end to this weird custom in several areas. However, the ritual continued after some time. The ritual leaves the child in trauma, and it takes a very long time for the kid to recover from it. The distress this practice creates in a baby is undeniable, which justifies the term “barbaric” used for it.
The ritual is not bound to Hinduism; even Muslims in several parts of India believe in this ritual and follow it religiously. The parents who participate in this ritual believe that they are doing a great deed for their child’s health and prosperity, while in reality, the ritual is nothing but a source of shock and trauma for the little ones.
The Human Rights Commission and Child Welfare Committee have been opposing this practice for a very long time. These organizations have even succeeded in enforcing laws against such barbaric acts against kids in several parts of India. However, even after being banned, the ritual is performed in the Nagrala village.
Is There Any Logic Behind the Ritual of Baby Throwing?
One may ask for the logic behind this bizarre ritual; however, the truth is that there is no logical explanation for it. Throwing a baby from a height that high can never bring luck; instead, a little mistake can cause a big mishap and even the baby’s death.
The people of Maharashtra and Karnataka believe that baby throwing is a religious duty towards them; however, there is no proof that this bizarre custom is a part of any religion. In Hinduism, baby throwing has never been a part neither do the Muslim beliefs encourage any practices like this. We can conclude that the ritual of baby throwing is more of a local custom than a religious one.
India and Its Bizarre Customs
As we mentioned earlier, India is home to some of the strange and unusual ceremonies and customs. In most parts of India, you will find one or two customs that are normal to them but totally bizarre and even disturbing for outsiders.
Just like Africa, remote Indian areas, especially villages, have developed strange customs over the years. From marrying animals to throwing babies, everything about the strange traditions of India is questionable. However, strange customs can develop anywhere in the world, but the problem arises when people, even after such advancements, are not ready to leave such customs behind.
The world is full of strange and bizarre traditions, and Indians follow a major part of these customs. With the availability of advance medical facilities, there should have been a major drop in practicing this weird ritual of baby throwing. However, the results are the opposite, and the government hasn’t succeeded in completely putting an end to these customs that are putting the lives of babies in danger. It is time for the Indian government to take serious actions against such rituals and end the baby throwing ritual once and for all.