GULBARGA, Karnataka -- Hundreds of devotees thronged the temple of Lakamma (Hindu Goddess) to celebrate a two-day annual footwear festival in Gulbarga district of India's southern Karnataka state on Saturday.
People from all across the state converged at the Gola (B) village of the district to take part in the festival known for its unique customs and rituals.
Devotees rush the temple on the sixth day after festival of lights, Diwali, to get their wishes fulfilled. Once answered, they tie a garland of footwear on a tree outside the temple.
Devotees also offer vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes to the Goddess.
"She is our Goddess, we came to know about it from my grandfather that the jatra (fair) of our Goddess is being organised", said a devotee, Milind.
Devotees have different beliefs regarding the offering made to the goddess. Few believe that the Goddess wear the footwear and protect people from evil. While for others, the Goddess relieve them of knee or foot pain if they made these unique offering.
According to the media reports, Villagers believe that animals were sacrificed at the temple to appease the goddess, but after a ban on animal sacrifice, people started offering footwear at the temple.
The 600-year-old temple houses no sculpture. Gulbarga Gazetteer published by the state government also does not mention about the temple and its rituals. Devotees have urged scholars to conduct research in order to throw light on the temple history and it practices.
Significantly, such rituals are not uncommon in temples in India. In India's northwest Rajasthan state, an offering of alcohol is made to a Goddess in her temple.
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