The 17th of August was not an ordinary day in Uttarakhand because commencement of Nanda Raj Jat created loads of enthusiasm and excitement in Nauti. This otherwise sleepy village, which is not very well connected to the main towns of Uttarakhand, welcomed numerous pilgrims. Everyone walked to Nauti temple in the evening to witness the prayers and reception of the Khadu.
Khadu, a rare four-horn ram, leads Nanda Raj Jat once in every twelve years. However, the pilgrimage in 2014 took place after fourteen years because of natural calamity of June 2013.
You have to await till 2026 to be part of this unique event. But you can feel the devotion and excitement anytime from your internet-enabled devices. You can experience how it looks like being possessed by devatas or spirits. These sudden bursts of “divine” energies, however, are not always pleasant.
Do you know?
This pilgrimage route meanders through the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve that includes the Nanda Devi National Park. The park is inscribed on the World Heritage List of UNESCO for its spectacular remote mountain wilderness spread over a wide range of altitude.
Browse the photo story from the 1st day of Nanda Raj Jat 2014.
Lush fields in Nauti, the village of Nautiyals
Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam (GMVN) Rest House, the only hotel in the village, was full on August 17, 2014.
Main cella of Shri Sidhipeeth Nanda Devi Mandir in Nauti, the small temple from where one of longest pilgrimages of Asia begins once in twelve years
A representation of goddess Nanda Devi to whom the pilgrimage is dedicated
A priest ties a raksha dhaga (an auspicious thread for well-being) to a devotee in Nauti temple.
A variety of offerings made to the goddess before starting the pilgrimage
The goddess was decked up in bright bold clothes and silver ornaments to match the occasion.
The devotees sing prayers of the goddess in Nauti temple and seek blessings.
Ransingha (a trumpet), one of musical instruments used in the rituals performed during the pilgrimage
A devotee tries to blow the ransingha in the temple.
The drummers play the beats that evoke spirits and devotees go into trances. The pilgrimage offers many such cultural spectacles. Trances are associated with possession. The scholars differentiate between a trance and possession. Trance means change in internal psychological state of a person. Possession means a spirit or devta “takes hold” of the person. Possession and trance generally occur together. Various scholars observed that music can induce states like trance and possession. Incense preparations may also cause the similar experiences.
The priest community tries to appease one of woman devotees in trance.
Ashok Nautiyal, a resident of Nauti village, experiences the trance.
Vikram Nautiyal, the brother of Ashok Nautiyal, pours water on his head to mitigate the sudden burst of trance-driven energies.
The appeasers could not escape the trance as the drummers continue to play.
The devotees in trance sing and dance to the beats of the drums.
A representative of the priest community dances with woman devotees to reduce the impact of the trance.
The devotees and the priest community walk through the slim trails connecting the Nauti and Rameshwar temples. They play bhankoras (long horns of copper).
The procession moves through the fields of Nauti.
The long queue of devotees follow the trail to get the first glimpse of the four horn ram (Khadu).
The procession stops briefly for trance moments.
The devotees sing and dance to the powerful provocative beats of the traditional drums.
A member of the priest community tries to appease the devotee in black t-shirt.
Another devotee in trance who completely loses control and falls on the drummers
It takes an effort and time to control the people suddenly going in powerful trances.
It takes more than one man to control the people going into powerful trances.
The procession reaches Rameshwar temple. The devotees help Ashok in walking.