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The Bhoonda

 
The custom was largely prevalent in Mahasu and Kulu regions and seems to have its earliest roots in human sacrifice performed every twelve years. The last Bhoonda  (at Vibhai in the Sutlej valley) is said to have been performed in the following manner

A man belonging to the Beda community was chosen for the ceremony, a few days prior to it. For three months he was housed in the village temple with great respect. During this period, he wove a rope with grass-measuring some four to five hundred Hath (a Hath is the length between the elbow and the tip of the middle finger of a mature human arm). On the fixed day a procession of the gods was brought out ceremoniously. The Beda led this procession holding aloft an umbrella made of blue cloth, and supported on each side by his two wives. He wore only one article of clothing and a red thread around his neck. As the precession reached the spot where the Bhoonda was to be performed one end of the grass rope was tied to the pillar on the top of the hill and the other to another pillar, at the bottom of the same hill. The procession then took the Beda into the temple and sacrifices a goat. In the temple the Beda was offered to the gods and then the procession returned to the spot where the Bhoonda was to be performed. Here on the top of the hill a woolen seat was laid on the rope with bags of sand suspended on both sides to keep it balanced. The Bhoonda was seated on that and at a signal from the priest he was pushed down hill. The seat flew down with the Beda. His survival depended purely on chance. If the Beda survives he is paid a sum of some 80/- to 90/- rupees from the temple fund. The observers also give him money. The last Bhoonda took place in 1902 at a village near Nirat. The custom is nearly obsolete now.


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