28 October, 2020

Where Men And Gods Meet

A trek of enduring faith and local history, the Raj Jat yatra is an ascent unto a living mythology

Where Men And Gods Meet

The black four-horned khadu (ram) stood somewhat lost in the crowd. Bedecked in red and saffron with garlands around its neck and bags full of jewellery tied to its back, it seemed totally oblivious of its significant role. A role it has been playing for about 900 years now.

A year before the commencement of the ‘Raj Jat’ or the Himalayan Kumbh, priests from Nauti, a village in the Garhwal hills, assemble and plead the gods for the birth of this four-horned ram. And if such a ram isn’t born, the ‘yatra’ doesn’t take off. Not every four-horned ram fits the bill; preferably black in colour, it should be born around Basant Panchami (a festival that falls in January-February). Explains Bhuwan Nautiyal of the ancient Raj Guru family, who is the head priest of the Raj Jat, "It is meant to be Nanda Devi’s escort as she returns to her husband Shiva’s abode after a brief visit to her mait (parent’s house)." The ram in fact leads the procession as it makes its way through the rough hill terrain for 19 days. During this...



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