Thursday 23 August 2012

Nanda Devi Raaj Jaat: Pride of Uttarakhand

Written by Sunitamohan

Uttarakhand takes pride of celebrating ‘Nandadevi Raj Jat’ every 12 years like Mahakumbha, which is an important spiritual and religious Yatra of around 280 kilometres taking 21 days.  Last Raj Jat was performed in year 2001 and now it is proposed to be organised in  2013(29th August to 17th September 2013). The significant journey points in Raj Jaat  are Kanshwa, chandpur, Nankeshari, dewal, Mundoli, Waan, Raanki Dhar, Bedni Bugyal, Patar nachanunia, Gangtoli cave, Kailwavinayak, Bhagwasa , Roopkund and Homkund.     
Goddess Parwati is also known as Nanda Devi in Uttarakhand and ‘Raj jat’ word is originated from “Raj Yatra” means the ‘Royal Voyage’ as it is associated with ancestors of the royal priests now living at village Nauti and Kunwars living in Kansuwar, both these places fall in district Chamoli. People come from different parts of India and world to be a part of this holy journey. This yatra is started from Nauti and goes on touching the area of Nainital, Almora and Pithoragarh. People participate in procession carrying the dola (dwalla) or Paalki of Nanda Devi. A four horned sheep is the main facet of the Raj Jat. 

It is said that when a four horned sheep is born, only then the Raj jat is planned. This sheep is freed with ornaments, foods, clothing and other offerings after Yagya and Pooja at Homekund.  When thousands of people go bare footed in this long journey with this sheep and Dola of Nanda Devi it is assumed as they are going to accompany the Devi to her in - laws place. This Jatra is like the post marriage ceremony of seeing off a daughter as she leaves for her husband's home with all her personal things and dowry. It is a sad moment; devotees have tears in their eyes as it is like departure of their own daughter. And finally, the four horned sheep proceeds towards Kailash, the dwelling of Lord Shiva.


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