View of Shri Sidh Pith Nanda Devi temple at Nauti, Uttarakhand. Devotees visit the Shri Sidh Pith Nanda Devi Mandir.
The three-week-long Nanda Devi Raj Jat is a pilgrimage and festival of Uttarakhand in India. People from the entire Garhwal division-Kumaon division as well as other parts of India and the world participate in Nanda Devi Raj Jat Yatra. The 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 (meaning Yatra or pilgrimage) 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 clothings, and the other offerings are discarded.
An annual Nanda Jaat is also celebrated. The Raj Jaat procession goes through villages, where there is a recognized Nanda Devi temple. At Koti, a night halt of the participants takes place where a night-long worship and celebrations take 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.
Due to the heavy rain and cloudburst in June 2013 in Uttarakhand, which led to major loss of life and property and caused massive destruction to the region, the Nanda Devi Raj Jaat Yatra from 29 scheduled to take place in August 2013 was postponed to the year 2014.
This Raj jat yatra originates from Nauti village 25 km from Karnprayag, in Karnprayag tahsil of the 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 the way, 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 heavy snowfall, the people were trapped and the dancers were transformed into skeletons 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.
During the period of Chand kings, Nanda Devi worship took the shape of a fair. Prior to that, Nanda Devi was being worshipped, but at that time only an idol of Nanda Devi used to be worshipped. The custom to make two idols started from the period of Baj Bahadur Chand. Even today, only one idol is prepared in the remote villages. The reason for this addition appears to be because the goddesses Nanda and Sunanda together took birth as princesses in the royal family and to mark this new reincarnation, the practice of celebrating a festival for both sisters together was introduced in which a story of from their life is enacted.
Source :- Wikipedia
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