Lifetime Penalty for Liquor
August 29, 2014 Friday
Mossy stones settled on the wide ascending trail were slippery when we left Mundoli for Wan. But the trail soon merged into the road leading to Lohaganj. The public square in Lohaganj experienced frenzy of priest community who possessed palanquins, parasols, and religious symbols like Kohinoor and people who sought blessings of the rare rams. Lohaganj was the settlement that accommodated probably one of the largest gatherings of the devotees during the pilgrimage. Because pilgrims took advantage of the road connecting three neighboring settlements: Mundoli, Lohaganj, and Wan. Wan was the last road head and the last village of the pilgrimage. So a swell of new enthusiastic visitors slain the remoteness of the mountains. And triggered a kind of silent competition for the resources.
Wan is the home of Latu devata. Godbrother of the goddess, Latu is probably the only deity who cannot be seen even by the priests. They blindfold themselves before worshipping in the Latu temple that opens only once every year. One of the oldest and the biggest surai trees (Himalayan cypress) of Asia lives in the temple decorated with bells and bells and big jazzy red scarves. With more than 15-meter thick trunk, the obese is a pride of the State. Maintaining a distance between man devotees and the deity is an old tradition. Women do not go to Latu at all.
Why don’t women go to Latu?
Probably answer lies in an intelligent folklore.
The folklore says, when Nanda Devi married to Shiva, the godbrother went with her to Mount Kailash to say goodbye. During the farewell journey, Latu felt thirsty. He wandered for water in the mountains. He found a house. The old man in the house pointed to the corner occupied with two pitchers. Latu was too thirsty. He randomly took a pitcher and gulped the content. After a few moments the slighted liquor showed its ugly signs (Because his guess was not right. He consumed liquor instead of water). Latu, the drunkard without civilities, invited anger of the goddess and the curse, imprisonment. He is still in the prison. The prison is the temple that is not opened.
Uttarakhand is home to these anti-liquor traditions but liquor problems haunt many lives like the life of Latu. So, do the folks really believe in religion and rituals? Or they just perform the rituals for the namesake?
The folklore tells an incident worth analyzing again and again for its relevance in today’s world where liquor is a big problem. And liquor ban is being used as a lollipop to woo women voters.
Check this series of visuals from the 13th day of Nanda Raj Jat 2014 to feel the frenzy and meet the rams.