Revelries, Returns, Wrongs, and Rights
August 31, 2014 Sunday
It was the third Sunday of the pilgrimage. But because of space shortage at the small campsite on a wooded slope in Garoli Patal, happiness of the pilgrims ran out by the morning. A number of pilgrims who slept hungry and in open yesterday flied off the handle easily in the morning conversations. It was mildly cold. Some of the pilgrims warmed their bodies with beedi, with cigarette, and by wood fire. People who had pitched their personal tents were busy in winding up the camp and moving to the next halt Vedni. It is believed that Ganesh, the son of Parvati (Nanda Devi) and Shiva, created Vedas at Vedni. A few parasol carriers cooked their own breakfast. Public performed puja and sought blessings of the goddess before starting the trek.
An antidote to the grey morning was probably readily available in the refreshing views of snowcapped Trisul and Nanda Ghunti. And the sky changed the garb slowly and did not change it again until late afternoon when the drizzle and heavy rain drops intermittently bathed the lush lively meadow. So we enjoyed brilliant blue sky with spectacular clouds for a number of hours.
The trail suddenly came to a halt at an open air temple in Goliyaun. The temple housed two unique natural stones representing the deity that invited everyone’s attention.
After a short steep climb, we reached the stunning spacious meadow that was dotted with tents of various cheerful colors. As soon as I entered the meadow, my eyes accidently touched two donkeys in tandem. One was born as mule and was quietly grazing on an empty slope. The other was a man in late 30s or so. The shameless man was attentive although deeply engrossed in the act of relieving himself in a public place brimming with people. He was enjoying the act and trying to spray the unwanted water oozing from his private parts as far as he could. He wore a smile. But when he realized my lens was aiming at him the expression changed to anguish. He pleaded with me for not to take the picture, without any remorse.
As I moved, atmosphere of the meadow changed. The devotees and owners pampered the rams. The pilgrims danced to folk songs. The simple slow dance movements were easy to follow. Some of the pilgrims awaited their turns in the free food queue. The pilgrims even waited for their orders at a make-shift eatery Roopkund Restaurant that served simple meals, tea, and Maggi (noodles). One of the parasol carriers wore a garland of ten rupee notes like bridegrooms wear in North Indian marriages and blew the conch. The parasols doubled as deity idols and received gifts in cash and kind. Puja was performed in front of the parasols.
With parikramas, pujas at the Nanda Devi temple at its bank, and holy dips, status of the receding Vedani Kund rose suddenly. The size of the procession reduced as some devotees and divine representatives returned. For example, the palanquin of Lata returned from the meadow but the palanquin of Nanda Devi from Sidhpeetha Kurad continued the pilgrimage. A few tall religious symbols added more color and visibility to the procession. But it was still a dwarf in front of the lofty Himalayas.
Have a look at Vedni visuals from the 15th day of Nanda Raj Jat 2014.