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Indian officials allowed hundreds of babies to be dropped from the roof of a mosque in the belief it would ensure good health and prosperity.
The ritual at the Baba Umer Durga, a Muslim shrine, is believed to have been followed for nearly 700 years, and each year hundreds of people, both Hindus and Muslims, take part.
Infants, most under two years old, are dangled from the roof of the shrine near Sholapur, 450km south of Mumbai, before being dropped about 15m onto a bedsheet held aloft by parents and other believers.
Television channels showed the babies screaming as they were shaken in the air before being dropped.
Officials said there had been no reports of any injuries at this year’s event.
With high child mortality rates, especially in India’s rural areas, many people resort to rituals which they believe can ensure their children’s health.
Children’s rights activists expressed outrage after the Headlines Today television channel showed the babies being dropped.
“This shows the complete failure of the local administration to prevent this practice and to create awareness about children’s health,” said Ranjana Kumari, a civil rights activist in New Delhi.
“It is also a reflection of the lack of access to health services, that forces people to behave in this irrational manner,” Kumari said.
India’s National Commission for Protection of Child’s Rights issued a notice to the local administration in Sholapur and has begun investigations into the practice.
I don’t think access to health service for kids will help this issue; if you are stupid enough to think that dropping your few months old baby from 50 feet, causing him a whiplash and possible permanent brain injuries will ensure his health then go ahead you don’t need medical access.
Have you notice that this year they shake the babies before dropping them? Why is that? They also have clothes and seem a bit older… Of maybe it was simply the 2nd group, the 1 and up?