During Nanda Raj Jat 2014, I heard a number of rumors that I would like to share with you:
About Gender of Yatris (Pilgrims)
Women under fifty (50) would not be allowed to join the yatra (pilgrimage) beyond Vedni bugyal (meadow). Then, people spread the word that ladies could go only up to Pathar Nachauniya, which is after the meadow. However, a number of ladies from this age group trekked up to Homkund, the ultimate destination of the yatra.
About Number of Yatris Going beyond Vedni
Beyond Vedni, the administration would not allow more than 10,000 people. Therefore, to keep the number within the target, very strict guidelines for medical examination would be followed at the meadow. There was no forced stopping of the yatris. But I heard an announcement at Vedni: Yatris who did not have enough food and proper camping gear should return to low altitude at the earliest as Met department warned about heavy rain and bad weather conditions in the next 24 hours.
Only parasol and palanquin carriers would be allowed beyond Vedni. This was not true.
About the Ram
Some of the ram (khadu) keepers kill and eat rams during yatra. People from nearby villages await farewell of the leading ram at Homkund. After the farewell they take the ram away.
About Registration and Medical Examination
Initially, I overheard that the yatris who ignored medical examination and biometric registration would not be allowed to go beyond Wan. Later on, the rumor was that this rule would apply after Vedni.
In fact, the government was liberal on that score. Dedicated counters were set up for both medical examination and biometric registration at more than one stopover along the trek route. Both processes were completed for many yatris but these were not compulsory. I met the yatris who did not go through either of the processes.
About Security Personnel
Only security personnel under 35 years were appointed for high altitude section of the trek. This was not true.
Police opened baton charge on natives of Wan and Sutol villages fighting with each other at Kaluwa Vinayak. This was also not true.
Do not respond to the rumors. Be calm and enjoy both physical and cultural landscapes that unfold during this three-week long religious adventure trek winding through Chamoli district, Uttarakhand.