At least six minor girls were paraded naked in a village in Madhya Pradesh’s Damoh district on Sunday as part of a ritual to summon rain, PTI reported.
The incident took place at Baniya village, located about 50 km from the Damoh district headquarters in the drought-prone Bundelkhand region.
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights has taken cognisance of the incident and asked the district administration to submit a report on it.
Damoh Superintendent of Police DR Teniwar said they received information that the minor girls were made to walk naked to “to appease the god of rains” as part of a local practice.
“Police are investigating this incident,” he added. “Action will be taken if it is found that girls were forced to go naked.”
Teniwar claimed that the villagers organise this ritual every year with the children’s consent, India Today reported.
On Sunday, the girls were made to walk around carrying pestles on their shoulders, according to India Today. They went door-to-door asking for flour, pulses and cereals, which were to be donated to a community kitchen set up in front of a village temple.
Damoh District Collector S Krishna Chaitanya said that none of the villagers complained about the ritual. “In such cases, the administration can only make the villagers aware about the futility of such superstition and make them understand that such practices don’t yield desired results,” he added.
Videos of the incident have surfaced on social media, The Times of India reported. In one of them, the girls are seen carrying a wooden shaft on their shoulders with a frog tied to it, according to PTI.
Another video showed women saying that the ritual was performed because paddy crops were drying in the village. “We believe that this will bring in rains,” they told the person recording the video.