God Never Talks. But the Devil Keeps Advertising

In the past 5 years, India has made its prominence felt in the world map, even on the moon and Mars. India became a part of the nuclear club, earned the tag of the world’s largest software exporter, exported the missile, and featured in the list of many countries that has the highest growth rate of GDP.

On the contrary, the country witnessed the heart wrenching episode of a woman being titled “witch” because she could not fulfill her husband’s needs of pleasure. ’Exorcism’ is what they termed this episode.
As luck had it, I had experienced the same at 2016 Ujjain Kumbha Mela. Located in Madhya Pradesh, through the medium sized city Ujjain runs the pious Sipra river.22nd April to 21st May 2016 saw the accumulation of few millions of people.

Near about 14 kms from the city of Ujjain, in Bawan Kund, near the banks of the Sipra River, the “Ghost Fair-Exorcism” was being hosted. Bawan Kund has a weird aura and a feeling of mysticism surrounds it, with broken stone structures, a damp smell filling the air, cobwebs, muddy puddles and the smell of flowers offered by the pilgrims. On the banks of Sipra, in Bawan Kund, ‘exorcism’ took a greater height, where in the name of religion; people were being beaten up ruthlessly. Thousands of pilgrims from interiors of different had accumulated here in the name of pilgrimage.

They had brought their relatives and friends to free them from evil spirits and the exorcists were violently beating up and ruthlessly hurting the so-called evil women, in exchange of money and valuables. Vimladevi from Gaya, Bihar, was unable to bear a child ,  Sitadevi from MP was not fulfilling her marital duties properly, Jamuna who came all the way from Kausambhi, UP was mentally retarded , Bindoo from MP’s Raisen was marked as an evil spirit because she had problems in her menstrual cycle and many more who fell prey to these unkind acts of brutality.

On the occasions where serious mental and physical attention was to be given to these patients, at least a lot of love and care in this case-they were being struck with a knife until they bled, and were dragged to the river to take the “Holy Royal Dip” to free them from the spirits. The exorcists were taking clear advantage of the blind faith the villagers had on them, torturing these women mentally and physically. Their wails, cries, scream got drowned in the sound of the bells and drums. The women were being hauled underneath the water, struck with knives and being dragged by holding their hair strands with the hope that they will be free from all sickness. The question thus arises “Who is actually sick? The tormentors or the tormented? “

About the author:

Debiprasad Mukherjee is an Indian freelance documentary photographer based out of Kolkata, India. He has completed his Post Graduation in Business Management. Though Debi is a Business Consultant by profession, but his strong passion for documentary photography & photojournalism made him travel to various countries. His photographs have been published in many international  magazines/websites e.g. Vogue Italia, National Geographic, F-Stop, Fotoforum, Society of International Travel & Tourism Photographers, The Telegraph, Life Force Magazine, Social Documentary Network, Private Photo Review, Edge of Humanity, World Street Photography etc.

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