India is known for its share of exotic and exciting festivals unlike any other in the world. Each region has its own culture and beliefs unique to the residents of the area. One lesser-known, yet particularly fascinating festival is Gore Habba, celebrated in the South Indian village of Gumatapura. After the nation-wide celebration of Diwali, the villagers participate in a massive dung fight; think snowball fights, but with cow dung.
While throwing cow dung at each other is hardly most people's idea of fun, the participants of Gore Habba have no reservations against this. The dung battle represents the dispute due to the marriage of Lord Veerabhadraswamy (a form of Shiva) and the Goddess Bhadrakali. Two groups formed with respect to the local castes of the members represent each of the divine entities and battle it out until the dung cakes break apart. The fight is followed by celebrations of the marriage by the Veerabhadra Swamy temple.
Each year, thousands of people gather to watch the proceedings of the Gore Habba festival from across the state. These spectators include women, who are not allowed to partake in the actual dung fight.
Gore Habba attracts curiosity and ridicule from those of differing cultures, however, cow dung is a vital resource in many parts of rural India as a natural insulator and rich fertiliser. Furthermore, the villagers of Gumataputra believe that the blessings of the Lord grant health, prosperity and rains.