Indore's iconic 200-year-old Hingot War Festival interrupted this year, due to Coronavirus pandemic

The COVID-19 infection has gripped as many as 35,683 patients in Indore, where 1,916 continue to combat the virus while 714 have succumbed to it.

For the first time in its 200-year-old legacy, the Madhya Pradesh state authorities disallowed the celebrations of the iconic festival of 'Hingot War' in Indore, over the fears of rapid escalation of the highly transmissible coronavirus, as the district continues to be a virus hotspot in the state. The COVID-19 infection has gripped as many as 35,683 patients in Indore, where 1,916 continue to combat the virus while 714 have succumbed to it. Recovery meter stands at 33,053 cases.

COVID-19 Shadows Hingot in Indore

Uninterrupted for 2 centuries, the MP administration did not permit the locals to engage in the festivities of the Hingot this year, which is traditionally held a day after Diwali in Gautampura area near Indore as the infection tallies in the city have surged past the 1,000 mark in the days that preceded the festival of Diwali. Since, permissions and preparations are set in motion several months in advance, Indore's depreciating health index negated the possibility of any crowd celebrations.

Gautampura police station in-charge told sources that permissions for the festivities were denied this year as celebrations call for massive crowd gatherings to witness the grand event, which in turn, posed a great risk of spread of the infection among attendees. This denial not only tainted the unique tradition in the Indore but it also hurt the sentiments of the area people who were unhappy that they could not witness the festival for the first time in recent memory.

The dismissal of the festive celebrations, however, yielded positive results for the city and its people. Indore witnessed a sharp decline in the number of fresh cases in the days following Diwali. On Monday, the city reported about 597 new infections, almost half of what Indore was furnishing in the days leading to the festival. At present, Indore projects healing trends with negative daily active cases, bettering recoveries, and falling mortality count.

A festival, a tradition- Hingot

The beginning of the Hingot war tradition has a legendary inception. According to historians, the armies of kings ruling the area fought valiantly while guarding the Gautampura region in mediaeval India and attacked the cavalry of the Mughal army with hingots (a jungle fruit similar in shape to coconut) and prevented them from entering and capturing their territory. Later, this tradition became associated with religious beliefs and has continued ever since, until now.

In this unique festival, teams from two villages attack each other with 'hingots', made by removing the jungle fruit's pulp and stuffing it with gunpowder, coal and brimstone. The groups from Gautampura and Rungi villages then ignite the fruit's stem attached to a rope (like a cracker) and throw these at each other like rockets as part of what locals call the 'Hingot war'. Both groups hurl charred hingot shells at each other till one of them is defeated. A large number of people also get injured during this festival.

Knock Knock

Though cancelling the festivities of a traditional celebration wounded the religious beliefs of the locals, this administrative call was essential to arrest the spread of the aggressively active coronavirus pandemic, especially in the backdrop of the fast-approaching second wave. Preventive measures as such, along with citizen cooperation and complete adherence to government guidelines is the only way that Indore can defeat this deadly infection.

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