Traditions have an emotional and spiritual impact on the lives of humans. Every country all over the world has different traditions and rituals to celebrate occasions and moments of joy and sorrow. India could be well considered as the land of traditions due to its diverse culture.
Betul is a district in southern Madhya Pradesh. The people out here believe that rolling children(babies included), in cow dung keeps them away from all sorts of ailments and diseases. Quite contrary to the famous saying ” An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. It is believed that not only does this ritual prevent diseases but it also brings about a certain amount of good luck. It is a known fact that the Hindus consider the cow as the most sacred animal and it is worshipped. The cow dung is considered equally sacred. There is a logic to this whole belief. The cow as it is, believed only eats grass and grains and thus, it is purely vegetarian. As a result, there are many pujas where cow dung is used. The cow dung is used along with ghee to make the fire in havans. It is said using cow dung purifies the air.
This tradition is observed around Diwali. Preparations for this ritual begins much ahead of time. Large mounds of cow dung are collected and stored days ahead of Diwali. The ritual takes place on the day of Govardhan Puja. Govardhan Puja is a Hindu festival and the celebrations begin next day after Diwali. It is believed that Lord Krishna had lifted the huge Govardhan mountain to protect the people of Vrindavan from floods. The process of rolling children and babies in piles of cow dung continues till each and every child has gone through it. The mothers watch and guard while their children roll in cow dung. The ritual begins at dusk and continues until each and every child has been through this.
This ritual, however, draws a mixed reaction. Doctors are definitely concerned about the fact that if any kid has an open wound or cut it could lead to infection. Bacteria present in cow dung could lead to a series of infection. Also, the skin of babies and younger children are very sensitive. Dipping them in cow dung could lead to an allergic reaction. The intention of this bizarre ritual is to bestow the young lives with good luck and good health. Bizzare as it may sound, this age-old practice is still followed in this small village.