Saturday, March 14, 2009

Rupkund: The deadly lake (part II) - The mythological importance

To the villagers of Wan the temple of 'Latu' God is the most devine place of the region. According to the myth, once Devi Parvati quarled with Daksharaja and escaped from his palace and lost her ways in a place near the bank of river Neelganga between Baidini bugiyal and Wan village.Then God Latu arrived there riding a horse and wearing red garments. He showed her the proper route under the condition that in this region he (God Latu )will also be worshiped along with Devi Parvati.Since then Latu is being worshiped in this region. The villagers remember him in case of their daily problem like drought or heavy rain.The temple opens at Baiskhi Purnima for six months. During this period fairs are organised here, only gents can take part in dancing and singing.In the month of Bhadra ( fifth month of the year according to the Hindu calender),'Antho' festival is observed here in which innumerable ships are sacrifised.

From Wan a festive trek called 'Nandajat' is organised. Nandajat which is organised every year is called 'Choti Nndajat' (Small Nandajat), which completes at Baidini Bugiyal (pasture land ).A bigger version is organised after each twelve years, which is the biggest social and rekigious festival of the Garhwal region. It was also observed even in the era of Mahavarata. Even the Pandavas also took part in this. In the Gupta era ( from 4th to 8th centuries) is became very popular.According to the 'Harshacharita of Banbhatta, King Harshavardhana (607 - 657 A.D) was it's patron. During the Muslim period Nandajat lost some of it's glory but revive in British period. According to Atkins, in 1882 the marriage anniversary of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati was celebrated in 'Nandastami'. Then every year the idol of Nandadevi was carried in a Palki(a cart carried by 2/4/6/8 persons) from Nauti Pargana of Garhwal to the Baidini bugiyal.Garhwalis believe that Nauti is her father's home and after every twelve ears, she performs oblation at Homekund on the way to her husband's home. So 'Bara Nandajat' or Raj-jat is observed after every twelve years.During this the 'Doli'(idol) of devi is carried as far as possible beyond Baidini. A four horned ram is loaded with cloth, ornaments, rice, wheat, orange etc and the pilgrims follow him. The journey ends at a place upto which the ram can reach. Then two stones containing mica are worshiped as the deity and the pilgrimage ends. If the ram can reach Homkund, then the ram is made free there. Surprisingly (at least the villagers believe) neither the ram nor his skeleton can be found thereafter. Though Homkund is the desired destination, yet the pilgrimage could reach there in 1967 for the last time. After that all the Nandajat (including the latest one in 2000) could only reach upto 'Chota Homkund).

Previously there was a custom of human sacrifice at the spot where the Nandajat could reach. But now an alternative system is followed. After every twelve years, the senior persons of the region elects a very old man unanimously. After the selection, he shaves his head, takes a bath with scented water containing rice, wheat, yellow flower etc. and he is considered as dead. His family completes his obsequies and he stars to live in an isolated mud house, taking a single meal a day. Coincidentally his death occurs within a year! In some villages, the ladies visit there father's home from their husband's place and they are worshiped by their sister-in-laws(brothers wife).

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