Keeping with tradition, Bhils rob offerings at Nathdwara's Shrinathji Temple
The tribal Bhil community has been once again accused of robbing offerings from the Shrinathji Temple in Nathdwara, Rajasthan, on the occasion of Govardhan Puja, which is celebrated a day after Diwali.
Govardhan Puja commemorates an event in young Lord Krishna's life, when he lifted the hillock of Govardhan on his little finger to neutralise the anger and arrogance of Lord Indra, the Rain God.
Temple priest Pandit Vishal Baba said Bhils looted the religious offerings, and suggested that this was a traditional practice.
"After Govardhan Puja, Annakut (a heap of grain) is offered before the idol of Lord Krishna. In the past, indigenous people were not allowed to enter temples, but presently, they constitute an important part of the community. They offer prayers and loot the religious offerings, which incidentally has become an annual tradition here," said Pandit Vishal Baba.
On this day, the devotees offer food to the deity of Lord Krishna and pray.
A heap of cow dung is also placed to symbolise the hillock of Govardhan and this is bedecked with flowers and worshipped by the devotees.
As part of the religious festival, the devotees perform the Pradakshina (circumambulate) around this mould of cowdung, decorated with flowers.
To watch this unique tradition, Nathdwara witnessed a huge inflow of devotees as well as both domestic and foreign tourists.
"It is a major loot enacted in a temple premises not only in India but of the world in which men belonging to the tribal community of Bhil openly loot the religious offering (Prasad)," said Neha, a visitor.
Mythology has it that Lord Krishna dissuaded the people of Gokul from worshipping Lord Indra at the end of every monsoon season.
This irked Lord Indra, who vented his anger through a thunderstorm that left the people of the area frightened. However, a young and tomboyish Lord Krishna lifted the hillock of Govardhan on his little finger and for seven days provided shelter to people of Gokul.
Humbled, Lord Indra acknowledged the divine powers of Krishna.