Joyful crowds pelted each other with fistfuls of cow manure this weekend as part of one village’s local ritual to mark the end of Diwali festival.
Similar to Spain’s “La Tomatina” — the eccentric tomato-hurling celebration of the local fruit — residents of Gumatapura instead fling snowball-sized wads of cow dung.
The Gorehabba festival begins with the afternoon collection of “ammunition” from cow-owning homes in the village, which lies on the border of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
The manure is brought to the local temple on tractor trolleys, before a priest performs a blessing ritual.
After that, the dung is dumped in an open area — with men and boys wading in to prepare their weapons for the battle ahead.
People flock to Gumatapura from far-flung cities each year, and for those in attendance, the messy battle is as much about fun as it is about the perceived health benefits.
“If they have a disease, it will get cured,” said Mahesh, a farmer at Saturday’s festival.
In Hinduism, the cow is a sacred symbol of life and the earth, and for centuries Hindus have used cow dung for prayer rituals. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has pushed for greater protection of the animals, and many states have long banned their slaughter for meat.