On August 17, 2014, harmless clouds befriended in the blue bright sky over lovely rural setting of Nauti (1,575 meters) in Uttarakhand. Nauti temple reverberated with sounds of folk music and jagar (devotional songs) narrating stories from the life of Nanda Devi.
Around 04:00 pm, the procession consisting of representatives of the priest community and devotees left Shri Sidhipeeth Nanda Devi Mandir for Rameshwar Temple to receive the leader of the Nanda Raj Jat. In less than one hour, the procession reached at Rameshwar Temple at the bank of a small stream in Nauti. However, the ram, the leader, was not in sight.
Since sitting idle did not match the occasion, local men and women decided to dance under watchful eye of the priest community in green ground at the foot of tiny ramshackle Rameshwar temple. The beats were not at all fast. The movements were easy to follow. Many of them just jumped as high as they could. The trances gripped some of the dancers.
The elderly and mid aged women held hands and formed a circle and slowly swayed to the drum beats. In the center of the circle, representatives of the priest community expressed religious joys in dance forms and tried to appease the devotees in trances.
Some of the people in trances looked pathetic. They were almost in pain and tears.
After more than one hour’s wait, the devotees spotted the procession coming from Kanswa. The procession that brought the ram and the royal chantoli (parasol), the soul of the pilgrimage, was inching towards the temple.
Everyone rushed to get the first glimpse of the ram. But the number of escorts and fans of the ram was high. They in fact almost veiled the ram. A brief puja was performed at the temple and a few devotees went into trances. Devotees sought blessings of the people in the trances, who were no less than deities.
There were a few devotees but place was small, so the number looked more.
People were in casuals. I did not notice any special dresses on the occasion. The priest community in saffron garbs wore jazzy red scarves decorated with golden color laces, hems, and sequins. The brave priest community walked barefoot the muddy stony trail.
These two processions merged into a single procession and moved back to Nauti temple for the night rituals and halt.
Click on any image to see the reception held in Nauti.