AUTHORITIES in southern India plan to ban an age-old ritual in which babies are tossed from the top of a nine-metre temple.
Every first week of December in a rural district in the state of Karnataka, villagers drop babies from the top of a Hindu temple onto a blanket held by a crowd below, amid dancing and singing.
Thousands of people assembled on Wednesday at the temple near Indi in the district of Bijapur to witness the event, which is said to confer good health and a long life on the baby and bring prosperity to the family.
But the centuries-old tradition has fallen foul of local authorities.
"As I am new to the district, I did not know about the unusual ritual, which is inhuman and terrifying for babies," Bijapur deputy commissioner R Shantharaj said.
"I intend to prevent the people from indulging in such acts next time."
The Karnataka Commission for the Protection of Child Rights plans to summon the priests at the Sri Santeswar temple to explain themselves after 200 infants were dropped this year.
"We have also sought a report from the district administration on the ritual to prevent a repeat of it," commission spokesperson Neena Nayak said.
India, home to all the world's major religions and a country where superstitions are widespread, plays host to a rich variety of festivals each year.
In August, authorities in central India attempted to ban a bizarre annual stone-pelting ritual which often leaves people dead or injured.
The intervention sparked a riot in which two police officers were injured and several vehicles damaged.
The mob eventually overwhelmed local officials and the festival went ahead as usual.
A similar baby-throwing festival - captured by Indian TV news channels in August - took place in the village of Harangal, in western India's Maharashtra state.
Reports said another such ceremony took place in May in Sholapur, about 450 km south of Mumbai.
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