Balli reaches out to the heavens for its annual showers of blessings

Day has broken at Balli, Quepem. A large crowd in the temple courtyard watches in awe a young man suspended 20 feet in the air, strapped face-down to a 30-feet-long log and swung in five circular motions. While it resembles an acrobatic show, for the locals of Balli it is an annual ritual performed in honour of their patron deity, Shree Shantadurga Ballikarin. It’s the ninth day of the full moon (navami) of phalgun, on which ‘shidyotsav’ (festival of ladders) or the ‘gadotsav’ of ancient Balliyapur – as Balli was called in ancient times – is being celebrated.