Tag Archives: balcony

Extreme Devotion: Does baby tossing ritual cross the line?

What is the most “extreme” thing you’ve done for your faith?

If, for example, you alter your body in some way or fast for days on end, that’s one thing. Once you involve someone else in your devotion, though, things start to get fuzzy. In this week’s episode of “Holy Facts” on The Chopra Well, Gotham Chopra explores some of more extreme spiritual practices around the world, including a particularly alarming festival involving babies.

In this 700 year old tradition, practiced every year in Karnataka, India by Hindus and Muslims alike, parents hand their infants over to priests, who swing the youngsters back and forth before dropping them 30 feet off of a balcony. Men standing below hold a blanket taut in which to catch the screaming babies before returning them to their mothers. Devotees believe the ritual to bring the babies prosperity and good health, though children’s rights organizations around the world decry the practice as “barbaric.” And it seems a rather life-threatening thing to do for the sake of “health.”

Screen Shot 2013-02-15 at 11.37.36 AMApart from the perhaps obvious problem with dropping babies off of balconies, there’s also the issue of forcing one’s devotion on another person. Is it okay for one person to engage another in their extreme and dangerous act of devotion, particularly if that other person is an innocent baby with no autonomy and no way of consenting? Maybe parents know what’s best for their children, physically and spiritually, but it would be interesting to get the baby’s perspective, especially when his or her life depends on a bunch of men with a blanket 30 feet below.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments section below!

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