Spirit of the goddess lives on: Nanda Devi worship at Nauti village

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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.

This Raj jat yatra originates from Nauti village 25 km from karnprayag,in karnpryag tahsil of Indian state of Uttarakhand. The Kunwar of village Kansua inaugurates the ceremony. The legend is this that Nanda Devi, consort of Lord Shiva left her village and went to the nanda devi parbat. Therefore when the yatra starts, heavy rain occurs as if the devi is crying. This yatra covers many villages and in between the Devi meets her sister in the Bhagwati village.

This Journey is a difficult one because of the difficult terrain it goes through. During the journey one passes by a Lake known as Roopkund surrounded by hundreds of ancient skeletons. According to local mythology, once a King took some dancers to this sacred spot. Due to a heavy snowfall the people were trapped and the dancers were transformed into skeltons and stones that can be seen in Patarnachonia. Another myth is this that king Yasodhwal's wife was pregnant and while she was giving birth to her child, her placenta flowed down to Roopkund and this in turn caused the death of the people there.

Nanda Devi Raj Jat - Nanda Raj Jat, the big pilgrimage of Nandadevi, is unique to Chamoli. It is very old traditional pilgrimage from the time of shalipal in the ninth century. There are no historical records but it is gathered from the local folklores and folksongs (jagori) that Shahipal who had his capital at Chandpur Garhi, buried a tantric instrument at Nauti nearby, and installed his patron-goddess Nandadevi (Raj Rajeshwari) there. The Royal priest, Nautiyal, of Nauti was made responsible for regular worship of the goddess.

Source: Wikipedia

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