Quite in the high meadows
where is everyone else
I am above the clouds
my being now makes some sense
The birds, the animals have been asking me since then
why it took you so long to find your true self
I can’t answer, I can’t think I said
My storms have been all silenced
whirling in the harmonies of my home with the bestowal of thy reverence…
Story reference: Kullu, Himachal Pradesh
FESTIVALS speak for all our happiness, they reflect the undertones of our antiquity and they flatter our long lived zeal for happiness. Whether colors whether lights, whether flowers or offerings everything high on nerves is a characteristic of Indian festivals. Dussehra though a name popular on the tongues of the mainstream society, is a combination of many tales told and is a treasure to the many, untold. So this time its not gonna be about mountains, or escapes or jungles or the restaurants rather its gonna be about an insight, a look, a nostalgic account into the very beginning of the culture of our HOME.
We all know that each one of us is protective about our homelands. Be it cities, towns, villages or countries. We love where we belong to. And it feels amazing to have a place to call home. But in today’s time there are a very few of us who know what their histories are, what their past recites and what framed their today. But when I speak of past and present I do not mean to engage you in a conversion of the intricacies we have created today. But I want you to simply rethink about HOW, WHAT ,WHEN AND WHO made things as they are. All these questions may sound like a boring subject talking about the buried dead but to be honest our stories are way more important to be held at a distance and to be just labelled as that. Don’t you feel the urge to know things, to know what might have happened in the place you are in right now ? Maybe some hundreds of years ago something lead to an event that you are celebrating a festival of it, who knows? These questions can tell you secrets of your life and about ours as well.
So without taking much time lets get into the world of the stories and history.
A long time back, around 16th century, Kullu was under Raja Jagat Singh. Just around some time he got to know that a man by the name Durgadatta had charming pearls. After hearing this he tried his every bit to get these pearls. Durgadatta, for many times denied the existence of such pearls but the king was determined to get them. Gradually the king grew more desperate for the pearls and despite of Durgadatta’s continuous denial, he never stopped pestering him. Seeing his brutality, Durgadatta set himself on fire along with his entire family and cursed the king for his doings.
The king found himself guilty and went to seek advice from a Brahmin. The Brahmin asked him to get the RAGHUNATH ji’s idol from Ayodhya in order to repeal the curse. Thereafter the king ordered the Brahmin to go there and bring the idol to Kullu. As a result Brahmin went there, got the ideal and started his journey back to Kullu. When the people at Ayodhya realized that the idol went missing they set forth the search. Soon they found the Brahmin and asked him to explain the event. After the Brahmin explained everything, they decided to take back the idol to Ayodhya. But people realised that idol tend to become heavier when it was being taken towards Ayodhya but became lighter in inclination towards Kullu. Thus the idol, based on this was brought to Kullu and was installed here. When the king took a sip of the ‘charnamrit’ from the statue, the curse was repealed. The day of the installation of the idol is commemorated in the form of our Dussehra festival.
Since then from around 17th century on wards, Kullu Dussehra is celebrated on every Vijay Dashmi and lasts for seven days in October. The traditional puja’s, the trade fairs, cultural events and gatherings of many local deities enlighten the festival for us, paharis. Even till today it is believed and often seen that these local deities come to visit and pay homage to Raghunath ji. These deities decorated and engraved on beautiful ‘rathas’ gather around in hundred of numbers and express their vigor and happiness. Against the scientific knowledge, these deities are believed to be incarnations of the respected gods. They are worshiped in the same centuries old traditions and rituals. The Raghunath idol from the legendary story is placed in a huge wooden chariot and is only uncovered during the dussehra festival. The chariot being of a large size, houses this idol which is just of a thumb-size. This chariot is rallied around on the first day of Dussehra and then is taken back to its sacred place.
And how can I forget about our famous Nati? These happy faces dancing in a number so large, together made a Guinness world record for the largest nati dance by 9,892 dancers, mostly women, on October 26, 2015. The occasion was set on to deliver the message of “save girl child”.
Our Homeland, thus has many stories and this was one from the collection. So the next time you visit Himachal or Kullu in particular, do remember to listen to these untold stories about our culture and about the making of our HOME.
Special thanks to Diksha Sharma for her value addition to the content and pictures.