Baby Tossing: Innocuous Rite or Mere Ignominy?

“It’s not the plot of horror film – but an ages-old annual ritual carried in southern India,”

~Ian Garland


Religious ceremony, traditional ritual, and  horrific madness are all terms that describe the horrific act performed annually by thousands of Indian locals. The baby throwing ritual is an act in which infants are dropped from a 15-meter platform onto a cloth held by both Muslim and Hindu men.

This act has been rooted in the culture of southern Indian culture for about 700 years. Its obscurity, however, has been revealed only recently as it made its way into the world of social media. The act is believed to have come to notice when one of the men who participated in the ritual recorded a video in 2009.

It is believed that the ceremony mostly takes place in the western region of Maharashtra. The rite happens near a Muslim shrine where either a Muslim or Hindu man tosses a toddler onto a blanket tens of feet below him. Surprisingly, however, there has never been an injury reported throughout the process.

Hosted annually in the first week of December, the custom generates good luck and even health to newborns. In addition, it is believed by Indians to affect child mortality rates. As a result, so many people living in rural areas have resorted to rituals like baby tossing,  believing it will ensure their children’s health. While most people around the world would consider this act barbaric, locals approach the ceremony with a more festive mood, as they cheer on and dance with the commencement of the ritual.

Due to the recent viral internet outbreak of the ritual, the India’s National Commission for Protection of Child’s Rights has started working on banning the act. In 2011, local campaigners managed to get the practice banned, but it returned a week later in another village.

In addition, police officers had tried to stop the festival, but angry villagers rebelled, proving the officers’ efforts futile. Lov Verma of the National Commission of Protection of Child’s Rights says, “‘I’m absolutely shocked by this. It’s not simply the government’s job. We need to educate all those who take part in this barbaric practice – the temple priests and the community.”

Still, locals and participants insist that it is their religious right to attend the ritual. One temple-goer says, “Our religious beliefs pull many of us to this ceremony every year.” People were even shocked by the government’s efforts to ban the annual festival. “By doing this, such kids will be healthy, strong, and live longer,” says the tribal priest.

In conclusion, baby tossing is still practiced to this very day and shows no indication of a cessation. The seemingly controversial  act may be approved by the Indians themselves but has gained a tremendous amount of criticism  over the past few years. Indians, however, continue to make the argument that there has never been any injury or accident noted. Whether the ritual will continue to exist and “bless” children remains an unanswered, is a paramount question.


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