A horrifying ritual has come to light in Karnatakaâ€™s Dharwad district, where an infant was allegedly made to lie on burning embers during a Muharram observance.
ANI reported that the infant, made to lie on the burning embers with just a layer of banana leaves in between, was just one year old.
The incident took place at Allapura village in Kundgol Taluk.
Visuals of the incident, shown by television news channels, show the infant struggling against the heat, even as a man keeps the infant in place by holding onto the arms and legs. Men can he heard raising a chant in the background, while a larger crowd can be seen watching the incident without interfering.
The ritual is reportedly performed to protect children from any untoward happenings.
Karnataka: One-yr-old child, wrapped in banana leaves, made to lie down on embers as ritual during Muharram in Dharwad's Kundgol near Hubli pic.twitter.com/Q1vfvpz48pâ€” ANI (@ANI) October 1, 2017
Kalgod Inspector Ventakaswamy said that during Muharram, many devotees offer similar prayers at the Allapura dargha.
According to the Gadag district Superintendent of Police, Santosh Babu, a 28-year-old man Channappagouda Bheemanagouda Dhanappagoudru and his wife Shivaleela had taken their one-and-a-half-year-old baby to the dargha in Allapura village.
"The baby's parents had prayed for a boy child two years ago, when his wife was pregnant. They had promised to keep the baby on a bed of coals if their wish was fulfilled. They got their baby a year-and-a-half later, and instead of keeping it on coals, they kept the baby on the ashes which were already doused. It was still a little hot so they kept two banana leaves and then kept the baby on it for about seven to eight seconds," said Kalgod Police Inspector Venkataswamy.
He said that a case had not been registered and that the Child Welfare Committee was roped in to counsel the parents.
"People from different faiths come and walk on red hot coals. It happens every year," he added.
The incident assumes significance as the Karnataka cabinet has finally cleared the Karnataka Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifices and Other Inhuman, Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Bill 2016 for tabling in the Assembly. The Bill, which was originally proposed in 2013 soon after the Siddaramaiah government came to power was put on the backburner allegedly due to opposition from religious groups. Even as the Bill is set to come to the Assembly soon, rationalists remain unhappy as they feel the Bill is a watered-down version of what had initially been promised.
This is not the first such incident of children being employed in physical painful acts as part of a religious ritual or an offering of prayers.
The incident comes just days after the National Human Rights Commission pulled up the police in neighbouring Tamil Nadu for allowing children in Chennai to be used for a cheek piercing ritual in October last year.
The ritual saw two-metre steel rods were pierced through the cheeks of young children, who were then made to walk from a Murugan temple in RK Nagar to the Semmiamman temple in Tondiarpet. All of this as prayers for the recovery of late Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, who had then been hospitalised.