12th Day of Nanda Raj Jat: Faldiyagaon to Mundoli

Pageantry for Faith in Togetherness

August 28, 2016 Thursday

Although it was mainly a brisk walk along the tar road under a sunny umbrella, the procession moved through the mosaic of green fields intermittently. It took short trails exiting from the road and climbing up and down the verdure slopes to reach tiny hamlets that were not the night halts. Many visitors huffed and puffed along these trails. They were unable to match with the pace of the locals who fearlessly sprinted even though they carried heavy palanquins and parasols. Even though they had not put on sandals or shoes. For them, walking on the mountainous slopes was not an effort. They are gifted with naturally acclimatized bodies and souls for the mountainous environs.

Trances were less but they still gripped the willing. The drummers continued to invoke spirits in old and not so old alike. Everyone, including toddlers, witnessed these trances intently. The river was visible at many places. The palanquin of Raj Rajeshwari travelled on young shoulders from one transit point to another point. All these points were in big and small villages that celebrated the moment in different styles.

For instance, at Lavani, one of the transit points, local men and women performed the folk dance. They freely enjoyed the moment of togetherness. Women flaunted big nose rings, the symbol of union of man and woman. This ubiquitous piece of jewelry hung from the tiny hole made in the nose of the married women irrespective of age, status of jawlines, and the creases describing experiences of lifetime. Many of them wore more than one crafted in different styles: bulaki (a pendulous nose ring worn on central cartilage of the nostrils) and natola (a large nose ring). Even the tired toothless faces balanced the rings’ weight gracefully and proudly. Reminding, a true marital bonding is not ephemeral. It was in perfect alignment with the principal purpose of the pilgrimage: to ensure togetherness of the divine couple.

Ramdanas bore dark pink blossoms matching the mood of the occasion. Loud sounds from long pipes and drums, bright decorations, showy religious symbols and signs indicated pageantry spots. A few pilgrims smoked addictive substances uninhibitedly citing references from the life of Shiva. However, everyone did not have time to participate in the parties and the pilgrimage. For instance, I spotted shepherds tendering their flock like usual.

The stony trails from small villages merged into the close by main road. This easy quick connectivity drew many people with herd instinct who would have not made it, had it been a road-less destination. Or if they had no relatives in Mundoli.

By the time we inched to Mundoli, the rainy clouds sprinted to Mundoli too. In the late afternoon, the clouds came down to witness the auspicious event dedicated to the goddess. The Mundoli residents were busy in hosting their relatives and the visitors. The houses brimming with guests were annoyed with the rain but did not let it slain the soul of the ceremonies. The celebrations in the name of faith and togetherness continued in loud pageantry that was more of festivities than a pilgrimage.

Browse the mini photo story from the 12th day of Nanda Raj Jat 2014.