Herd of cows is forced to run through fire as crowds cheer during a Hindu festival in southern India

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This is the moment a herd of cows is forced to run through fire as part of a Hindu festival.

In the ritual, a herd of decorated cattle is forced through the flames in Sompura village near Bengaluru in Karnataka, southern India in footage taken on January 15.

The ritual is usually carried out on the occasion of Makar Sankranti, a day in the Hindu calendar which is dedicated to the sun God.

Cattle are decorated using garlands and hanging bells in a ritual known as ‘Kicchu Hayisuvudu’.

For the occasion, the villagers pamper their cows and decorate them in order to prepare for the event. 

They are then made to cross the lines of fire, usually during the night.

As there is a huge crowd of spectators who come to watch the festival, some shows start in the early evening to cater to the flow of the crowd.

The video shows the herd of cattle being chased towards the line of fire as the crowds stand on both the sides and cheer.

Performing this ritual, ‘Kicchu Hayisuvudu’, is said to bring good fortune and protect the devotees from harm.

This festival comes at a similar time to the bull-taming festival ‘Jalikattu’ held in the state of Tamil Nadu in southern India.

The festival has come under fire as some commentators claim the traditional ritual is cruel to animals.  

Petitions have even been filed in the supreme court of India by animal rights groups.

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