The Himalayan State in north part of India, Himachal Pradesh, has an interesting aspect associated when we talk about mythology & religion etc. There are some local deities of Himachal Pradesh, which have some strong stories associated with them and have a deep literature associated. People have always been curious to know about different behaviors, Trends, customs & characteristics of various deities worshiped in different parts of Himachal Ptradesh. Here we are trying to share some information we could get from Sheshpal. We met him on the way back from Kinnaur to Shimla. Let's check out this Photo Journey...
Himachal Pradesh which is also known as ‘the land of gods’ / 'Devbhoomi', is said to be protected and sheltered by the power of numerous local deities and most of the cultural charactrastics are derived from the same. Geographically Himachal is divided into few smaller regions and characteristics/beliefs change from one part to another. These deities possess some peculiar personality traits and have their own individual entities. Every region in Himachal believes in a distinct deity. In fact, in some parts every village has a unique deity which influences most of the decisions for that village. Local people have great faith in these local gods called ‘devta’ in the regional language.
We met Sheshpal near Rampur where he along with his friend were taking back Devi to their own village. During the whole journey, they were not supposed to put Devta on ground. Either of them had to hold the Devi in their hands. During our conversation about Himachali Devtas, he mentioned about some of the popular ones in Shimla & Kinnaur regions. He started with Devis(godesses) of Himachal Pradesh and shared some facts about Hatkoti mata. Hatkoti Mata temple is in Jubbaal region of Shimla Distrcit in Himachal Pradesh. This goddess is a form of the goddess Durga. River Babbar flows right besides Hatkoti temple. There are many stories about the history of Hatkoti temple of Jubbal. Just outside the temple, there is a huge vessel which is tied with strong metal chains. And the second end of these chains is tied to the feet of the statue of the goddess kept inside the temple. There were two such vessels initially, one of them has said have disappeared in the Babbar river on its own. This is considered as a reason for tiding the second one to the goddess’s feet. People from all over the state come to this temple to pay their homage and bring their harvests as an offering to the goddess each year. It seemed that Sheshpal visits this temple quite often.
Continuing the details about Devis/Godesses/Mata, he started talking about Hadimba Devi Temple which is located in Manali. The Hadimba mata is basically worshiped in Kullu region of Himachal Pradesh. The Hadimba mata has a peculiar wooden palanquin covered with gold and a gold parasol that is in the shape of a semicircle. The palanquin has masks of the faces of Hadimba mata and Manu rishi which is another diety based in Old Manali, a few miles away from Hadimba Mata Temple. The Hadimba mata is considered as aggressive by nature. Girls are allowed in the temple premises. When he said this, it sounded something different to us but we resisted to ask this at that point of time. There is a flag(dhwaja) outside Hadimba temple of which is made up of the trunk obtained from a walnut tree. The trunk had to be in one piece and the particular tree is choosen by the goddess herself. The tree towards which the palanquin leans when it is taken in the forest is chosen. The flag pole is helpful for the local people to locate the temple from a distance. It is said that the famous ceremony of the Kullu deshehra does not proceed without the presence of Hadimba mata. Hadimba Mata Temple has a unique architecture and one of the popular tourist destination around Manali as well.
As we were waiting for him to talk about Bhimakali Mata, which we had visited two days ago, he started sharing about Bhimakali Temple which is located in Sarahan town of Shimla District. Bhimakali Mata is a very powerfu goddess who is supposed be a form of the goddess kali. The temple of Bhimakali mata was established by the prince of Bushehr many year ago. It is a beautiful ancient wooden temple, which is a sort of common architecture across Shimla region. The royalty of this area are only allowed inside the main temple premises. Only the family of current chief minister of Himachal Pradesh is allowed. Mr. Virbhadra Singh performs the ceremonies in this temple and there is a a temple which is opened by Virabhadra on some special occasions only.
Shali mata is mainly worshiped in villages of the Sunni area of District Shimla in Himachal Pradesh. Shali Mata temple is situated at the highest point in Shimla district. The king of Patiala established this temple and women are allowed in the temple as well.
It was great to talk to Sheshpal about Himachali Devtas. He shared lot of details about this trend of Devbhoomi in India. It seems, almost every village of Shimla region has a Devta/Diety and these dieties have relationships with each other. Many fairs are organized for formal meetings of these Devtas. On some special occasions, some of these dieties move out of their temple and go on Yatras to different parts of State or Country. Shespal started sharing about Shirgul devta. Folks of Choor-Dhar region around Chaupal region of Himachal Pradesh worship Shrigul Devta. The main temple is built in Shimla district. Shrigul Dev is another incarnation of lord Shiva and is supposed to be very kind, generous and calm by nature.
All these conversations reminded me of a documentary I had seen on Malana Village. There is a documentary on Malana Village, which talks about the way local authorities being chosen by local Devta of the village. When villagers started participating in State Elections, whole village suffered because of sudden fire in almost all the houses. Then whole village was rebuild and people followed the Faith, they have been following for last many years.
Baba Bala Kameshwar is worshiped in Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh. Baba Bala Kameshwar is son of main rain god of Himachal Pradesh, Kamru Naag. Baba Bala Kameshwar has a silver palanquin with a silver parasol and his scripture is made up of silver. Girls and ladies are allowed near the scripture. The brothers of Baba Bala Kameshwar are also worshiped in this region. The palanquins of all the brothers are brought together each year at the time of Shivratri celebrations in Mandi. Shivratri fair of mandi is one of the main fair of Himachal Pradesh. This ceremony is opened by the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh every year and most of the devtas from Mandi & Kullu region participate in this huge fair.
Shringi Rishi is mainly worshiped in Skiran of Kullu district in Himachal Pradesh. This place is 6 hour away from Jalodi Pass, Kullu.The temple is situated in a dense forest at a height of approximately 15000 feet.This place is covered with snow for 7-8 months of the year and is generally visited by the devotees in the month of June. The scripture of the Shringi rishi has a horn on its head which makes him clearly recognizable among the scriptures of other deities. Shringi Rishi is one of the most famous deities worshiped in the Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh. It is said that it was Shringi rishi who performed the holy ritual at the time of the birth of lord Rama.
Devta Maneshwar is mainly worshiped in villages of Narkanda region of Shimla District in Himachal Pradesh. Dev Maneshwar is said to be another form of lord Shiva. And considered as aggressive in nature and does not have tolerance towards the Mahadev and his followers. There is another Devi around Narkanda, which is located on one of the highest peaks in the region, called as hatu peak. Hatu Mata has a beautiful temple on hill top and many adventure lovers also like this place for biking & hiking. Check out more about Hatu Temple at - http://phototravelings.blogspot.com/2011/12/hatu-temple-near-narkanda-and-tani.html
You must have noticed the name of Mahadev in above conversation. ) The Mahadev is worshiped in a village called Pudag in khotkhai of district Shimla in Himachal Pradesh. The palanquin for Mahadev Pudag is made up of wood, covered with a red cloth and has a parasol of gold on top of it. Mahadev is believed to be very calm and accepts no sacrifices, just an offering of milk makes him content. We were really happy to know this special fact about Mahdev. Mahadev is worshiped by two panchayats in Kotkhai. The Mahadev, Naag devta and the Doom devta are said to be brothers , Mahadev being the eldest of the three. The three of them travel together and all the decisions taken by Mahadev are obeyed by the other two. Do these details compel you to think a lot about these localities. We would love to hear your questions about all these details.
The Shalu Devta is worshiped in Ganganagar of Rohru region in Shimla district of Himachal Pradesh.The word Shalu meaning stone in English. The Shalu devta and his brother Chaltu devta both originated in the form of two stones from the stomach of a sheep. Shalu devta is said to be a very calm deity as he was an anchorite. His palanquin does not have hair and has many faces of gold and two snakestones one bigger than the other, inlayed on it. He does not accept any sacrifices and is very calm and powerful .The palanquin of his brother has hair on it.
During this conversation Sheshpal talked about lot many Devtas but we are sharing some details of ones which we remembered or we could note on our iPad. He also talked about Ghunda Naag devta which is worshiped in some villages of the Kotkhai region of District Shimla. The Ghunda naag devta has a palanquin which is made up of wood, covered with silver metal sheets. It has a gold parasol. The Ghunda naag is the son of the Bhoori mata who is a powerful goddess worshiped in Himachal. Ghunda Naag Dev is aggressive in nature and the sacrifice of a sheep pleases him. He is worshiped by 2 panchayats in the Kotkhai region.
Above photograph shows horns on Temple walls of Pashakot Devta which is located near Barot in Mandi District of Himachal Pradesh. Check out more about Pashakot Dev at - http://phototravelings.blogspot.com/2012/05/ancient-temple-in-himalayas-pashakot.html
Above photograph was shot long time back at Nawahi Devi Temple in Sarkaghat Region of Himachal Pradesh.
Most of the local and famous fairs of Himachal Pradesh are inaugurated by one or more Devtas/Dieties. A rally of Devtas is followed by many of their followers and local bands as we can see in above photograph. I have personally witnessed two of the main fairs on Himachal Pradesh - Kullu Dussehra & Mandi Shivratri.
During the conversation he also mentioned about Doom devta, Devta Baindra,The Laankra veer, The Narsingh devta(Pudag), The Narsingh devta(Dhami), Bothe Mahsu devta, MahasuDevta etc.
It was time to say good-bye to these two gentlemen and we have got their contact numbers to continue this conversation and keep exploring this unique aspect of Himachal Pradesh State of India.