Forget genies in a bottle, ghost-busters, yoga, crystal balls and cartoons. The New Zealand Herald covers the story of hundreds of infants being dropped from the rooftop of a mosque in Sholapur, western India about 450 miles south of Mumbai, in the belief that the fall, hopefully ending in the lucky catch of the child in a bed sheet, signals eventual good fortune for the family.
The ritual at the Baba Umer Durga, a Muslim shrine, has been followed for close to 700 years with hundreds of people both Hindu and Muslim taking part. Local television channels showed babies screaming while being shaken before being dropped while parents and other believers stood aground holding open bed sheets. With high child mortality rates, particularly in India’s rural areas, people view the ritual a guarantee of their child’s health.
Child welfare advocates continue to express outrage at the event. ” This shows the complete failure of the local administration to prevent this practice and to create awareness about children’s health” New Delhi civil right’s activist Ranjana Kumari said, adding ” it may be a reflection of a lack of access to health services leading people to behave in this irrational manner”.