7 Facts about Nanda Devi
Locals believe that Nanda Devi is an incarnation of Parvati or a sister of Parvati.
Goddess Nanda Devi is the principal deity of both divisions of the State: Garhwal and Kumaon. Both the divisions participate in the pilgrimage.
Although Nanda Devi is a goddess, a masculine title (Shri) is used for her, her temples, and the pilgrimage dedicated to her.
Nickname of Nanda Devi in Garhwal: Gaura and Raj Rajeswari
Nickname of Nanda Devi in Kumaon: Gamara
Badhan: The region belongs to the husband of Nanda Devi.
Chandpur Pati: Natal home of Nanda Devi
12 Facts about Nanda Devi Raj Jat
Nickname of Nanda Raj Jat: Himalayan Mahakumbh
Jat means Dev Yatra that narrates tales of the bonding between deities and devotees. Nanda Raj Jat re-establishes this relationship especially between the Uttarakhandis and Nanda Devi, the isht deity of Uttarakhand.
Purposes of Jat
- To send the daughter to her husband’s house
- Social integration that has huge political significance
The pilgrimage involves all sections of the society:
Dalits (harijans) play drums (dhol and damaun) and sing jagars to evoke the deities in human bodies and to kick out evils.
Thakurs blow bhankauras (long copper pipes).
Brahmins take care of the ceremonial parasols that symbolize divine powers of goddess Nanda Devi.
The Nanda’s oracles fall into trances easily and quickly and act as a link between the devotees and the gods and goddesses.
The men and women sing and perform jhumela that depicts their love for the wife of Lord Shiva. Jhumela is sung when Nanda comes to the village.
The old ladies sing mangal to welcome newlywed bride, Nanda.
For every Nanda Raj Jat, families of the 12-Place Brahmans select a representative who carries the royal parasol made of bamboo. Nautiyal Brahmans from Nauti claim that they are related to one of the twelve brahmans settled by the first royal family of Chandpur in twelve different villages surrounding the Chandpur Fort. The descendants of the twelve are referred to as 12-Place Brahmans who hold the highest rank in the local caste system.
The walking order for the royal procession:
- the ram,
- the royal parasol,
- parasols of the 12-Place Brahmans, and then
- pilgrims who are mainly farmers
Why do devotees offer srianger items, rice, and fresh fruits and vegetables like apples, bananas, corncobs, cucumbers, and ridge gourds, to name a few?
Because her husband’s house in an uninhabitable area remains covered in snow for entire year.
Because these items are easily and locally available.
The pilgrimage exhibits a pattern: processions from different villages have much more men than women. While at ceremonies in villages, women are relatively more.
The ceremonial parasols of the goddess Raj Rajeshwari are referred to as devata (god) until Kulsari. But beyond this village, the goddess is remembered as Bhagwati (goddess).
The following folk song is the anthem of the pilgrimage:
Jai, jai bola jai Bhagwati Nanda,
Nanda uncha Kailas ki jai
Jai bola teru chausingh khadu
Teru chantoli ringoli ke jai
Isht devi Nanda, Nanda Kumao- Garhwal ki jai.
The song is about the victory of Nanda Devi. And the palanquin symbolizes victory.
- Lake of the Fire Sacrifice and
- The place where everyone stops wandering (Ghumaki)
Is Nanda Raj the longest on-foot pilgrimage in Asia?
About 280-kilometer-long Nanda Raj Jat is often mistaken as the longest on-foot pilgrimage in Asia. However, it is not true.
The longest on-foot pilgrimage in Asia is Arabeen / Chehlum, the 680-kilometer-long walk that is still undertaken by a number of Shia Muslims of Iraq every year. This Shia pilgrimage route, connecting Basra and Karbala, winds through desert that is extremely hot in day and cold in night. The rich and poor people of all age groups and genders from different countries participate in the annual pilgrimage.
The pilgrimage is undertaken to mark the end of the 40-day-long mourning period after the macabre killing of Imam Hussein. Hussein was the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. He refused to accept despots and tyrants. The 40th day is remembered as Arabeen / Chehlum.
The pilgrims do the arduous journey to remember his virtues and sacrifices and re-pledge to stay away from the evil practices.
Karbala, the holy city housing the Imam Hussein Shrine, is the final destination of the pilgrimage. At Karbala, they mourn and weep to share the grief of their angel Husssein.
People from the villages located along the pilgrimage path serve these courageous pilgrims with the best of facilities. In fact, villagers humbly invite the pilgrims to give them a chance to serve them. The villagers pitch tents (caravan / mawkeb) and set up makeshift kitchens and clinics for the pilgrims. All these services are free.
3 Facts about Economics of Nanda Devi Raj Jat
According to official estimates, local vendors did huge business during 2014 Jat: INR 54,000,000.
According to another estimate, about 1,500 Nepali porters earned record revenues during the 2014 pilgrimage: INR 10,500,000 in just seven days from Wan to Sutol.
Uttarakhand State Council for Science and Technology (UCOST) proposes a fee to participate in Nanda Devi Raj Jat to reduce crowd.
2 Facts about Khadu
Locals believe that a 4-horn ram is a special gift of the goddess. However, zoologists claim that the 4-horns are not unusual. Many rams can have four horns. For example, Syria is home to Jacob sheep / piebald sheep that has well defined four horns.
The ram is an incarnation of Nanda Devi.