Worrying visuals have emerged of hundreds of people gathering without masks or social distancing for Chhattisgarh's annual Madai Mela amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Organised on the first Saturday after Diwali in Dhamtari district - 66 km south of Raipur - the fete is especially popular among couples who desire a son.
According to local belief, a married woman would give birth to a baby boy if she comes to the temple of goddess Angarmoti in Dhamtari with offerings and allows people from the Baiga tribal community to walk over her as she lies on her stomach with her hair open.
This year, despite the coronavirus pandemic, more than 200 women came to Dhamtari district to participate in the ritual without masks, visuals show.
Social distancing was not followed by participants and curious onlookers, who jostled with each other for a closer look of the rituals.
The telling incident comes within days of Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel taking part in a "wish-fulfilling" flogging ritual practised in Durg district a day after Diwali.
Visuals of Chief Minister Baghel withstanding traditional flagellation have been shared widely on the internet. That day too most people in the crowd surrounding Mr Baghel were not wearing masks.
ये छत्तीसगढ़ के मुख्यमंत्री भूपेश बघेल हैं, दुर्ग जिले के जजंगिरी कुम्हारी में सबकी मंगलकामना के लिए सांटा का प्रहार झेलने की परंपरा निभा रहे हैं pic.twitter.com/tnBF6quYu6— Anurag Dwary (@Anurag_Dwary) November 15, 2020
Dhamtari collector Jai Prakash Maurya told NDTV that the fete was organised without permission from the local administration.
"New guidelines will be issued for Madai Mela, like wearing masks and social distancing. Only 200 people are allowed at gatherings, including weddings, because of the coronavirus pandemic," Mr Maurya said.
Chhattisgarh recorded 1,842 new coronavirus cases and 19 deaths on Thursday taking the state's caseload rose to 2,19,404 with a total of 2,691 deaths.
The state has been seeing a record rise in cases and Covid-related fatalities over the past few weeks, forcing the state government to impose localised restrictions in some pockets including capital Raipur which accounts for majority caseload.
So far, only 22.5 lakh people have been tested in Chhattisgarh.