This article was first published in The Times Of India.
Recently, on June 13th, a mela was held in Jadhang village inside Nelang valley, a forbidden area for commoners where one can enter only with permit or special permission. Lal devta is the presiding God of this area of Nelang who is also worshipped among Tibetans. Under him in order of hierarchy are Ringali devi and Someshawar devta who currently reside in the village of Dunda during winter and in Bagori near Harshil during summer season. When the people of Jadhung were displaced during Chinese aggression in 1962 they brought Rangali devi and Someshwar devta along with them to Dunda. However, according to folktales Lal devta refused to move. Thus, once every year Ringali devi and Someshwar devta have to be taken to their ancestral home in Jadhang to meet Lal devta . It is a reunion of Gods.
Picture Credit: Tilak Soni
Jadhung is the last village, the border village of India. This village served as a pitstop for trade route between India and China in the olden days. There were around 70-80 houses in Jadhung at that time. Each house had beautiful wooden carvings, even the stones had carving. It was known for its vibrant art and architecture until the village was deserted in 1962 and the people of Jadhang were moved to Dunda, a small place near Uttarkashi.
This year around 50 Bhotiya and Jadh people celebrated this occasion with great reverence and fanfare. They collected at Bogri, near Harshil and stayed overnight. The next morning after performing puja, the group holding their deities in palanquin marched towards Jadhung village. Halwa poori was prepared as prasad and distributed. Raso, folk dance of Bhotiyas was performed in front of the of the dolis of devi and devta in the plateau region on the Trans Himalaya at 12500 feet.
This festival holds a special importance as it is only once a year indigenous people of Jadhang are allowed to enter their village and perform deity worship. This colourful event is also an emotional one for the pain of a displaced community is not an easy one to heal.