A stampede at a religious celebration killed at least nine people, eight of them women, in eastern India on Monday, a district official said. "Eight women and a man died during the stampede," Rahul Purwa, deputy commissioner of Deoghar district, in Jharkhand state, told AFP.

The victims were among thousands of Hindu devotees who had gathered to take part in celebrations to mark the anniversary of the birth of Saint Thakur Anukul Chand.

The stampede broke out while hundreds of devotees were gathered in a congested hall for early morning prayers, said Purwa.

"I was informed by local police officials that the incident was the result of rumours spread by some devotees. The district administration is conducting a probe," he added.

The injured were being treated in nearby hospitals.

Stampedes often break out at religious events in India where policing and crowd control are often inadequate.

The last major stampede was in January 2011 in the southern state of Kerala when more than 100 people died as panic spread among worshippers crossing mountainous terrain in the dark to visit a shrine.

On Sunday, three people were killed and over two dozen injured in Mathura near New Delhi where a large congregation had gathered on the occasion of the Radha Ashtami festival, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.