Priest performing rituals before the Nanda Devi Yatra begins.
Three week long Nanda Devi Raj Jat is one of the world's famous festivals of Uttarakhand in India. People from entire Garhwal division-Kumaon division as well as other parts of India and the world participate in Nanda Devi Raj Jat Yatra. Goddess Nanda Devi is worshipped at dozens of places in Kumaon and garhwal, but the region around Mt. Nanda Devi and its sanctuary, which falls in the Pithoragarh district, Almora district and Chamoli district, is the prime area related to Nanda Devi. In Chamoli Nanda Devi Raj Jaat is organized once in 12 years. The Jaat starts from Nauti village near Karnprayag and goes up to the heights of Roopkund and Homekund with a four horned sheep. After the havan - yagna is over, the sheep is freed with decorated ornaments, food and clothing's and the other offerings are discarded.
An annual annual Nanda Jaat is also celebrated. The Raj Jaat procession goes through villages, where there is a recogniszed Nanda Devi temple. At Koti a night halt of the participants takes place where a night long worship and celebrations takes place.
Though in the Johar Valley region there is no tradition of Nanda Raj Jaat but the worship, dance and the ritual of collecting Bramhakamal (it is called Kaul Kamphu) is part of Nanda festivals. The Nanda Devi fair is held at Almora, Nainital, Kot (Dangoli), Ranikhet, Bhowali, Kichha and also in the far flung villages of lohar (like Milam and Martoli) and Pindar valleys (like Wachham and Khati). In the villages of the Pinder valley people celebrate the Nanda Devi Jaat (journey) every year, while in lohar people come from far and wide to Danadhar, Suring, Milam and Martoli in order to worship the Goddess. In Nainital and Almora thousands take part in the procession carrying the dola (or litter) of Nanda Devi. It is said that the Nanda Devi fairs started in Kumaon during the reign of Kalyan Chand in the 16th Century. A three day fair is held at Kot ki mai or Kot bhramari devi. The fair at Saneti comes every second year. Both these fairs are rich in folk expressions and many village products are brought for sale.
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